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Willie Person Mangum

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Willie Person Mangum politics and pragmatism in the Age of Jackson
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Thompson, Joseph Conan, 1960-
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Presidential elections ( jstor )
Senators ( jstor )
Slavery ( jstor )
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1995.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 397-417).
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Typescript.
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Vita.
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by Joseph Conan Thompson.

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WILLIE PERSON MANGUM:
POLITICS AND PRAGMATISM IN THE AGE OF JACKSON














By

JOSEPH CONAN THOMPSON


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1995


UNIVERSITrY OF FLORiDA LURARIES












ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

At long last this project is complete and I can begin the delightful task of thanking

all those who made what could have been a lonely exercise a pleasant experience. My first

debt is to William Cooper who suggested Willie Mangum as a dissertation topic. When

my mentor Bertram Wyatt-Brown approached Dr. Cooper on my behalf, he recommended

Mangum without hesitation. His quick response saved me countless hours of searching

by pointing me in the direction of a long-neglected public servant worthy of a scholarly

biography. Robert Kenser read an early draft of the first chapter and offered his special

insights. Lucy James, one of Mangum's few surviving direct descendants, brought her

unique perspective to the project, enabling me to flesh out the senator and better

understand his complex family life. Conversations with Larry Menna and Thomas Jeffrey

helped me place Mangum within the larger context of early national politics.

While researching Mangum's life I had the chance to work with people whose

professionalism made my job easier. The staffs at the Southern Historical Collection in

Chapel Hill, Duke University in Durham, the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh,

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and the Library of Congress in Washington,

D.C. all expressed an interest in my work, helped me locate valuable material, and

generally made researching a pleasant experience. Special thanks to H. G. Jones and the

rest of the staff at the North Caroliniana Society at the University of North Carolina for







their financial support. Charlie and Sue Rice made life on the road easier by providing

me with a home away from home during my stays in Washington, D.C. So too did Pete

Troisi. These old friends fed me, drank with me, and listened to my tales of Willie late

into the night without complaint. My new friends, Bob and Maureen Lucas, along with

their dogs, showed me the way to Willie Mangum's long-neglected grave in the North

Carolina woods. Indeed, to all those anonymous souls in and around the town of Bahama

who pointed me in the direction of his final resting place, I say thank you.

I reserve special thanks for my dissertation committee. Ron Formisano brought his

special knowledge of nineteenth-century politics and superior editing techniques to this

project. His comments and criticisms of the final draft have already proven invaluable as

I prepare this work for the next stage. Jeff Adler and John Sommerville made important

contributions as both teachers and committee members. James Button of the Political

Science Department came to my rescue as a last minute addition to the committee, making

it possible for me to graduate on schedule. Hal Wilson sat in for one of his colleagues,

proving once again that he is a class act. The irreplaceable Betty Corwine and the rest of

the staff of the History Department at the University of Florida guided me through the

byzantine process of graduate school, asking only that I donate ten percent of my life's

earnings to them. You will not get my money Betty, only my gratitude.

While at the University of Florida I made friends whom I now count among my

dearest. They taught me to be a better historian, a better listener, a better friend, and a

better softball player. In my eight years in Gainesville I have had the chance to work with

people who I know will go on to become the leading lights of a new generation of

iii






historians, including Jane Landers, Chris Morris, Stephanie Cole, Eric Rise, Jeremy Stahl,

Scott Sheffield, and Jeff Brautigam. Several others -- including Jack Henderson and John

Guthrie -- helped me survive qualifying exams, and for that and so much more I remain

forever in their debt. Another survivor of that process, Daniel Stowell, also led me

through that modern labyrinth we call the computer. He and his wife Miriam made

navigating this strange new world fun. Caleb and Beth Finegan read parts of this work and

offered their encouragement as I neared completion. My colleagues at Santa Fe

Community College have given me their personal and professional support during the latter

stages of this project. One of them, Doug Klepper, has given his support and friendship'

all along.

Two fellow graduate students merit special mention. Dave Tegeder and Steve Noll

went above and beyond the call of duty, listening as I read page upon page of this work

over the phone. Despite the occasional grumble, both offered excellent advice and

demonstrated incredible patience. Dave read the first draft of my prospectus. His advice

proved especially insightful and gave the project form it might not otherwise have had.

Another group of close friends, some of them able historians, others talented journalists,

all mediocre softball players, made life in Gainesville more fun than I could have imagined

and probably slowed down this process more than helped it along. Nevertheless, to all

those who have worn the "Ducks" uniform, I extend to you my thanks for reminding me

that there is life after dissertation. To Kevin Fritz and Christi Lane I say the same and

add that your friendship has meant more to me these past few years than words alone can

describe. My brothers and sisters -- Joanne, Jim, Lulu, Maggie, Kitty, Jackie, Peter --

iv







my mother Joanne and stepfather John have given me so much support over an entire

lifetime. To my brother John who was there when I began my college career but left too

soon, and to my father James whose memory I try to do proud, I say God bless.

Finally, I save my most heartfelt thanks for the two people who have given me the

most during this period in my life. To Bertram Wyatt-Brown, a first-class scholar, an

editor of unmatched ability, and mentor in every sense of the word, I say thanks. You

pushed when I needed it, but never too hard and always with the best intentions. Your

editing has given this work style. If there are passages that stand out, you can be assured

they are as much your doing as mine. The awkward parts, on the other hand, are mine

alone. And to my wife Toni. For twelve years you have given me everything I needed.

Your financial support has allowed me to live better than any graduate student should,

your editorial remarks have made this work readable, your patience has made it possible.

Not once did you question my commitment to my work. Instead you allowed me to follow

my dream and make it a reality. But most of all, you showed me -- in your smile, your

laugh, your eyes, your passion -- what it means to be alive. I love you and it is to you that

I dedicate this work and my life.













TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..................................... ii

ABSTRACT ............................................. viii

INTRODUCTION: THE AGE OF PRAGMATISM ..................... 1

CHAPTERS

1 RED MOUNTAIN ................................... 15

2 JUDGE MANGUM ................................... 34

3 THE PRESIDENTIAL QUESTION ........................ 63

4 RELUCTANT JACKSONIAN ............................... 96

5 PLAYING CHESS .................................. 135

6 ANTIPARTY PARTISAN .............................. 172

7 INSTRUCTIONS ...................................... 212

8 W ALNUT HALL .................................... 255

9 VINDICATION ...................................... 275

10 VICE PRESIDENT MANGUM ........................... 303

11 HOLDING ON .................................... 344

EPILOGUE: TWILIGHT OF THE PRAGMATISTS .................. 388







BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................... ............. 397

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................... 418












Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

WILLIE PERSON MANGUM:
POLITICS AND PRAGMATISM IN THE AGE OF JACKSON

By
Joseph Conan Thompson

December 1995


Chairman: Bertram Wyatt-Brown
Major Department: History

For most of his eighteen years in the United States Senate, Willie Mangum wielded

tremendous power and influenced the course of national politics. He served as president

pro tempore of the senate, oversaw political campaigns in every state, and advised those

who became paragons of their age. His current lack of historical notoriety, while

undeserved, can be explained by his political style. His important work took place in

committee meetings, cloakrooms, taverns, or boarding houses; all places far removed from

public view. However, it was here that Mangum and a generation of leaders orchestrated

the development and consolidation of modern political parties and fashioned the legislation

and the compromises that define the Age of Jackson. This dissertation examines the

transformation of elite antebellum American political culture through the lens of

biography.







Willie Mangum's informal style of management together with his long tenure in

Congress elevated him to the highest ranks of the national Whig organization. His career

demonstrates the varied ways in which the Whig elite brokered power and exchanged

favors to maintain political viability. Similarly, his evolution from an antipartisan

politician to a leader of a national organization illustrate the conflict in American politics

between rhetoric and reality. The republican traditions so warmly embraced by the

electorate and so eloquently defended by the officeseekers, were often ignored in the

closed-door sessions that produced public policy. Despite a genuine belief in the principles

espoused by the Revolutionary generation, Mangum and his contemporaries placed

practical concerns above potentially divisive ideals and employed both formal and informal

mechanisms to achieve what they regarded as workable solutions to complex problems.

His flexible definition of republicanism and pragmatic approach to power politics served

him well in an age when a market revolution was transforming American society.












INTRODUCTION
THE AGE OF PRAGMATISM


Henry Clay's funeral procession moved solemnly down Pennsylvania Avenue and

into the senate chamber where the body of the great compromiser would lay in state. Six

United States senators filed alongside the caisson as honorary pallbearers, their faces and

reputations almost as well known to the American people as the man they had come to

mourn. Among those marching was Lewis Cass, the Democratic presidential nominee in

1848, and John Bell, former Speaker of the House. Willie Person Mangum, the senior

senator from North Carolina and one of Clay's closest friends and most trusted allies,

walked with them.1 Both Clay and Mangum enjoyed long careers in Washington and both

epitomized a generation of political leaders in America. In what could accurately be

described as the "Age of Pragmatism" -- the period between 1820 and 1848 -- the two

stood out as paragons of an age. Avoiding divisive issues, creating broad coalitions,

fashioning compromises, and building a national party system, these two pragmatists

guided American politics from the localism of the eighteenth century into the modern era.



SHis name is pronounced "Wylie Parson Mangum." See, Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.,
The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and
History, 1950-1956), 5:762; Willie Person Mangum to Washington Hunt, 8 February
1844, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Robert
V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
1991), pp. 782.







2

In carrying Clay to his grave, however, Mangum and the others were carrying political

pragmatism to its final rest. In effect, they were burying an age. Frail and bitter, the

sixty-year-old Mangum would remain in Washington for only one more year, ending more

than three decades of public service. While in better physical condition than Clay,

Mangum's political career was just as moribund. By 1852, the generation of pragmatists

had given way to a new breed of younger politicians. Mangum no longer fit in with this

crowd and so he left, a discarded remnant of the second party system.

Born in 1792 in Orange County, North Carolina, Willie Person Mangum rose from

the state legislature to the United States House of Representatives. In 1830, he entered the

United States Senate and served one term before resigning in 1836. Four years later he

was reelected to the senate, where he remained for more than twelve years. During that

time Mangum labored in the company of giants. He participated as a member of the most

prestigious committees, advised presidents, hosted foreign dignitaries, and served as the

president pro tempore of the senate. High ranking party officials looked on Mangum as

a man of national renown and often mentioned him as a possible contender for the highest

state and national offices. Rigidly partisan and chauvinistically southern in his public

utterances, he nevertheless enjoyed private relationships with men from both political

parties and every region. Two years before escorting the body of Henry Clay to the

Capitol, Mangum was a pallbearer in the funeral procession of John C. Calhoun, evidence

indeed of the breadth of his personal associations. Over the course of his long career,

Mangum earned the admiration and respect of those who knew him on a passing level.






3

Those who knew him well knew him to be an outgoing, honorable, and generous man.

He applied these virtues to a career noted for its longevity and success.2

Given his contemporary fame and importance, why, the historian asks, has Willie

Mangum all but vanished from national memory? He has been relegated to the

appendices of textbooks where historians faithfully record the eleven electoral votes he

received in the election of 1836. Little else of what he did is commonly known. Although

his current obscurity is undeserved, it is understandable in light of the fact that his

important work took place in private: in committee meetings, cloakrooms, taverns, or

boarding houses. While the lives of presidents and presidential aspirants of the Jacksonian

and antebellum periods have been noted, the deeds of those whose careers are similarly

noteworthy, if less dramatic, need also be documented. Political biographers are drawn

to the extraordinary and tend to ignore the routine; they look upon the beauty and grace

of the thoroughbred, only to miss the power and drive of the work horse.

This dissertation represents a partial atonement for prior historical neglect. It

covers the life of Willie Mangum from his boyhood up to the year 1849. Four historians

have started to write definitive, full-length biographies of Willie Mangum, but all failed

to complete the task. Stephen B. Weeks, Penelope McDuffie, William K. Boyd, and

Fletcher M. Green, each working independently, began biographies at one time or another.

Coincidentally, each died before they could finish. The fifty-four page McDuffie



2 Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union, Vol. 1: Fruits of Manifest Destiny (New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947), p. 314.







4

biography was published in 1925 and a draft of Boyd's work survives in the Mangum

Papers at the Duke University archives. Two graduate students, Edith Josephine Houston,

writing in 1960, and Julian Mclver Pleasants, writing in 1962, completed master's theses

dealing with parts of Mangum's career, but neither constitute a true biography and both

are dated.3 Mangum himself once intimated that the history of his life would never be

written because so much of what he did went unrecorded.4 The "want of a scribe,"

historian Glenn Tucker wrote in 1966, explains why Mangum has not been accorded his

due by subsequent generations of Americans.5

Ironically, Mangum's success as a party manager helps to explain the absence of

a full-length biography. During the 1830s he helped mold the North Carolina Whig Party

into an efficient organization. In 1840, 1844, and 1848 North Carolina gave all its

electoral votes to the Whig presidential candidate and for most of the decade they held

narrow majorities in state legislature and controlled the governorship outright. So, when

national party leaders met to name candidates to run for national office they passed over




3 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, l:vii; Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters in
the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical Papers. Published by the Trinity
College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University Press, 1925); William K. Boyd, "A
Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum." Willie Person Mangum Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Edith Josephine Houston,
"The Bank of the United States and Willie P. Mangum." (M.A. thesis, Appalachian State
Teachers College, 1960); Julian Mclver Pleasants, "The Political Career of Willie Person
Mangum, 1828-1840" (M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1962).

4Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:741.

5 Glenn Tucker, "For Want of a Scribe," North Caroiina Historical Review 43
(1966):184.







5

Mangum, in part because they regarded his state as safely Whig. Customarily, the more

hotly contested states or those with larger populations won the right to place the names of

their native sons before the national electorate. Of those born in the Old North State, only

James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson, three men who relocated elsewhere

prior to embarking on political careers, won spots on successful national tickets. Had

Mangum been picked to run on such a ticket, he would have caught the attention of a

biographer before now.6

The literature on antebellum southern politics in general and North Carolina in

particular is rich and places Mangum in a larger perspective. In The South and the Politics

of Slavery. 1828-1856, author William J. Cooper demonstrates how politicians like

Mangum suited their rhetoric to the whim of the electorate. Using Willie Mangum as a

yardstick, however, Cooper's thesis, that slave-related issues were almost always the

central focus of southern politics, is overstated. To be sure, Mangum proved a stout

defender of slavery and ultimately sided with fellow southerners on many questions

pertaining to slavery. Like most southern Whigs, however, he did his utmost to see to it

that the question rarely entered into the discourse and looked to party, not region, as the

unifying force in American politics at the height of the second party system. Historian

John Ashworth, in 'Agrarians & Aristocrats': Party Ideology in the United States. 1837-

1846, better captures the inherent complexities of southern Whiggery as typified by

Mangum's evolving outlook on key national issues, but relies too heavily on ideology as


6 Thomas E. Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina, 1814-1861
(Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 162.







6

an explanation for most Whig policies. So too does J. Mills Thornton in his study of

antebellum Alabama.7

Of the studies relating specifically to antebellum North Carolina politics,

Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second American

Party System in Cumberland County, North Carolina, by Harry L. Watson, is best at

placing North Carolina within the broader context of national politics. It also comes

closest to naming pragmatism as a driving force in elite political behavior. Two recent

works on the second party system in North Carolina take opposing views of the importance

of pragmatism in the process of party formation. In Parties and Politics in North Carolina,

1836-1865, published in 1983, Marc Kruman brings the republican synthesis to the Tar

Heel state. Locating the source of party conflict in the ideology of the Revolutionary

generation, Kruman argues that the Whigs and Democrats battled continually over which

policies best preserved republicanism. Thomas Jeffrey, in State Parties and National

Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861, views the partisan battles in antebellum North

Carolina as having more pragmatic antecedents. As he saw it, state and local issues had

become so divisive by the mid-1830s that leaders from both parties started to emphasize

national issues to unite easterners and westerners in true statewide parties. Where Kruman

is ready to accept the rhetoric of antebellum political leaders at face value, Jeffrey offers



7 William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978); John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the United States. 1837-1846 (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1983); J. Mills Thornton, III, Politics and Power in a Slave
Society: Alabama. 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978).







7

a more skeptical, and in my opinion, more realistic view of partisan politics in an age of

an expanding electorate.8

The use of the phrase "Age of Jackson" in the subtitle of this work is deliberate.

Although considered by some historians to be outdated, the phrase recalls how important

Andrew Jackson, as both an individual and an issue, was to the course of American

politics for more than twenty years. More importantly, it calls to mind the politics of

evasion that men like Mangum practiced throughout this period. In order to build national

coalitions in a nation of such great regional, social, and economic diversity, party leaders

had to mute the more divisive issues, particularly slavery, and focus less volatile questions

or mere symbols. The two major political parties to emerge during the second party

system were nonideological, as were most of their leaders. To appease their broad

constituencies, nineteenth-century political leaders, whom historian Edward Pessen has

referred to as opportunists par excellence, eschewed ideology. Instead, they focused

public attention on the quadrennial contest for the presidency. The "presidential game,"

as Richard P. McCormick noted, drew regional factions together in ways previously

unimagined and forestalled a constitutional crisis over the question that divided North from

South -- slavery. On those occasions when ideologues did get the public's ear -- the






8 Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of
the Second Party System in Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1981); Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina.
1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983); Jeffrey, State Parties
and National Politics.







8

nullification crisis, for example -- politics-as-usual came to a standstill and the pragmatists

had to reassert themselves by restoring banality to center stage.9

What little issue-oriented politics took place in America during this period took

place outside the mainstream. Reformers and idealists had to construct fringe parties or

leave politics aside to form private benevolent societies. According to the nineteenth-

century liberal paradigm, government was defined in the negative. The American people,

still devoted to the idealism of the American Revolution, wanted to limit the power of the

state. Any work beyond collecting taxes, delivering the mail, organizing the military, and

establishing diplomatic missions belonged to the private sector. The services provided by

the state needed civil servants, so those who entered politics were rewarded with control

of vast reserves of patronage. Therefore, government service attracted pragmatists like

Mangum, a man more concerned with power and position than with social uplift.

Laissez-faire government and the politics it spawned insured the rise of a generation

of pragmatists. The parties they built in the late 1820s were born out of personal cliques


9 Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society. Personality, and Politics (Rev. ed.
Homewood Ill.: The Dorsey Press, 1978), pp. 232, 258, 287, 324, 326; Richard P.
McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American Presidential Politics (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1982); Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics
of Jacksonian America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990), p. 10; Richard L. McCormick,
The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the
Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 160-61; David M.
Potter, The Impending Crisis. 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), p. 226;
Frank J. Sorauf, Political Parties in the American System (Boston: Little, Brown and
Company, 1964), pp. 61-65, 127; Glyndon G. Van Deusen, "Some Aspects of Whig
Thought and Theory in the Jacksonian Period," American Historical Review 63
(1958):322; Eric Foner, "Politics, Ideology, and the Origins of the American Civil War,"
in A Nation Divided: Problems and Issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction, ed.
George Fredrickson (Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 15-16.






9

that had grown dependent on the good will of an ever expanding electorate. With an

innate distrust for activist governments, Mangum and others like him concentrated on

distributing the benefits of the state to these voters in the guise of keeping the state in

check. Tariff policy, incorporation laws, bank charters, internal improvements, and the

redistribution of proceeds from the sale of the public domain, all represented efforts by a

new professional class of politicians to broaden their own power bases while limiting the

reach of the state. As historian Richard L. McCormick has shown, "policies of allocation

and distribution proved remarkably conducive to the formation and persistence of parties."

They were also safe, an essential element in the process of party formation in a large

republic. Pragmatists like Mangum, Henry Clay, and Martin Van Buren built and

maintained the second party system with the belief that immutable principles had to remain

in the background and used distributive policies to guarantee its continuance.0t

While Mangum held strong opinions, he rarely let them interrupt the normal course

of business. In this regard he embodies a centrist tradition as old as the nation itself. For

all of its history the United States produced politicians with the same moderate proclivities.

Compromising individual principles for what was believed to be the greater good of the

nation, men like Mangum defined the nature of national politics for generations to come.

An informal style of management, coupled with his long tenure in the United States

Congress, elevated Mangum to the highest ranks of the national Whig organization. From

there he had a unique perspective on a dynamic era. His career illustrates the varied ways


o1 McCormick, The Party Period and Public Policy, pp. 139. See also, ibid., pp. 206-
210.







10

in which the Whig elite brokered power and exchanged favors in order to stay in office and

maintain viability. Despite a genuine belief in the principles espoused by the

Revolutionary generation, Mangum and the other political leaders of the era often placed

practical concerns above principles and employed both formal and informal mechanisms

to achieve justifiable ends. Confronting the contradictions between the republican tradition

of an earlier generation and the demands of a society in the throes of a market revolution,

pragmatic politicians organized the electorate and guided American political organizations

from factions to parties.

Biographies humanize the past. For this reason several historians have raised a cry

for more political biographies. David Brion Davis wrote that biographies allow us to

"examine in detail how the personality crisis of a complex individual reflect tensions

within the general culture and how the individual's resolutions of conflict within himself

lead ultimately to transformations within the culture." As this biography will demonstrate,

Willie Mangum personified the dramatic shift in values of southern Whiggery between the

years 1830 and 1850 and so lends Davis' statement credibility." Ronald Formisano also

called for "studies of elite motivation." "The much heralded replacement of traditional

notables by a 'new class' of professional politicians," Formisano wrote in 1974, "should

be systematically studied" if we are to understand the broader political changes that







David Brion Davis, "Some Recent Directions in Cultural History," American
Historical Review 73 (1968):704.







11

occurred during the early national period.'2 More recently Peter Knupfer and Michael

Holt have made similar appeals.13

The scholarship of the past thirty years has redefined political history as the study

of political culture, constituent behavior, and the ideological basis of mass political parties.

Still, for all their achievements, students of the new political history and the republican

synthesis have replaced flesh and blood characters with abstractions and statistical

aggregates. Biography restores the participants to historical discourse and human agency

to the process of party formation. Indeed, this work represents a necessary corrective to

what I believe to be the overstatements of the republican synthesis. So much of that

literature mistakes political rhetoric for reality. This is not to suggest that Mangum's

generation rejected ideology. Instead, they understood that principles were often luxuries

they could ill afford as they tried, for example, to reconcile the antipartisan rhetoric of

republicanism with the need to organize an expanding electorate. Reviewing two books

on working-class culture in the early republic, both of which rely heavily on the republican

synthesis, critic Richard Stott remarked that he was "continually struck by how implausibly

high-minded artisans usually appear." The same can be said for the politicians of this

period. Like Stott, I believe that "by humanizing [politicians], we will make them more



12 Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participation Politics: The Early Republic's
Political Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (1974):478.

13 Peter B. Knupfer, The Union as It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional
Compromise. 1787-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), p. x;
Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American Development: from the Age of Jackson
to the Age of Lincoln (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), p. 22.







12

real, and in some ways more sympathetic, than the relentlessly respectable [politicians] of

so much of the recent literature."14 This study reintroduces party managers to the study

of American politics without retreating to the old elitist perspective. It combines elements

of the new political history and the republican synthesis while seeking to avoid the

overstatements.

The career of Willie Mangum coincides with the early stages of what historians

have labeled the market and transportation revolutions. Many of my ideas about Willie

Mangum and his times have been shaped by the recent literature concerning the changing

political economy of the early national period. A commercial boom after 1815 brought

national and international market forces into local economies, carrying in their wake

important changes in the nature of American politics. Charles Sellers wrote that "a new

generation of realists" eased the transition to a market-driven economy by using the state

to promote economic development. Facing social and economic dislocation, many

Americans fell back on an outdated ideology to express their displeasure with the new

order. Astute rhetoricians like Mangum fashioned their words in such a way as to appear

sympathetic to their pain, champions of their lost cause. In reality, they were nothing of

the sort. Mangum thought that the long-term benefits of economic expansion would be

great for the country. In the meantime, he, along with the rest of the nation, stumbled

through a new age trying to fit old concepts to new problems with little success. Indeed.


14 Richard Stott, "Respectable Artisans," Reviews in American History 22 (1994):228;
See also, John P. Diggins, The Lost Soul of American Politics. Virtue. Self-Interest. and
the Foundations of Liberalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 12-
14, 105-109, 112-113.






13

the tension between the promise of the republic and the demands of commercial capitalism

explain the disparity so often seen between Mangum's words and his deeds. Innovations

and inventions in transportation and communication technology only amplified them, as

railroad lines and telegraph wires drew more people into the vortex of national politics.1

The intellectual and ideological route travelled by Mangum closely parallels the

course followed by a generation of Southern Whigs. Like so many other southern Whigs,

Mangum emerged from the Federalist era with loose moorings and no particular political

affiliation. In 1824, Mangum, an advocate of states rights, aligned with the supporters of

William Crawford during the presidential campaign that year. After the Georgian had

suffered a nearly fatal stroke, Mangum reluctantly joined with Andrew Jackson and the

Democrats, once again following the path blazed by a generation of southerners.

Jackson's belligerent response to nullification and his war on the Second Bank of the

United States alarmed conservative southerners like Mangum, who regarded this expansion

of federal power as an encroachment on the rights of the individual states and a threat to

the republic. Eventually Mangum united the opposition in his home state under the Whig

banner and by 1840 had placed them in Henry Clay's hands. For the next decade he and



"5 Quote from, Charles G. Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America. 1815-
1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 348. See also, Ronald P. Formisano,
The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s-1840s (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 16; Daniel Feller, "Politics and Society: Toward a
New Jacksonian Synthesis." Journal of the Early Republic 10 (1990):155. The idea that
pragmatists often carry out the work of idealists is taken from, David Remnick, "The
Hangover," The New Yorker (22 November 1993):51-65. Remnick's observation that
post-Soviet Russia has suffered because ideologues, not pragmatists, lead the government
fits nicely with my ideas and shows them to be timeless.







14

the other southern Whigs worked side by side with their northern allies. When the alliance

began to deteriorate over the slavery issue, Mangum tried to force upon his fellow

southerners a settlement many could not stomach. The pragmatist did not fully understand

the passions that divided his party. Fittingly, Mangum's gradual physical decline mirrored

that of his dying party. He suffered a series of strokes in the 1850s but lingered until the

outbreak of the Civil War. The North Carolina Whigs also held on until the war, but, like

Mangum, their best days were behind them. He shrunk physically and emotionally to

become a crippled reminder of a bygone era. In September 1861, Willie Person Mangum,

the quintessential southern Whig, suffered his final stroke and died shortly thereafter.'6


6 Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, pp. 163-64.












CHAPTER 1
RED MOUNTAIN


On May 10, 1792, Catherine Davis Mangum gave birth to her first child at her

home near Red Mountain, North Carolina. Catherine and her husband, William Person

Mangum, named their son Willie (pronounced "Wylie" in the eighteenth-century English

fashion). The new parents had decided to forgo customary naming practices which dictated

that the infant should take the name of a blood relative. Instead, they chose to honor one

of North Carolina's leading citizens, Willie Jones. Born in 1741, Jones represented North

Carolina in the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. Following the war,

he served in the state senate, where he played a leading role in drafting North Carolina's

first constitution. Appointed as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the

ardent anti-Federalist refused the commission and shortly thereafter retired to his spacious

plantation in Halifax. By naming their son for one of North Carolina's most esteemed

patriots, Catherine and William Mangum may have been expressing their own republican

sentiments. On the other hand, they may have simply been paying tribute to a local

aristocrat. In any event, the new parents observed traditional naming patterns with the







16

newborn's middle name, Person (pronounced "parson"), the family name of the child's

paternal grandmother.'

Willie Mangum grew to adulthood in the shadow of what was generously called

Red Mountain, a gradually rising slope situated along the northern border of Orange

County.2 Located in the central piedmont region of North Carolina, Orange was home to

scores of yeoman farmers and a handful of small-scale planters. In 1790 slaves accounted

for 17 percent of the population of Orange County, the vast majority residing with masters

who owned fewer than six chattel. The arable Durham, Wilkes, and Appling loam that

blanketed the rolling hills of northern Orange County proved especially suited to the

cultivation of tobacco, which the first settlers and their descendants produced in

abundance. Some households added to their income by raising small amounts of cotton.

Alongside nominal yields of these cash crops, local residents harvested enough wheat and

corn and reared sufficient quantities of livestock to lead lives of rugged self-sufficiency.




Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5 vols. (Raleigh:
State Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), l:xv; 5:762; According to
Bertram Wyatt-Brown, parents in the old South were more likely to name their sons for
a family member than for a prominent individual. Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern
Honor: Ethics & Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982),
pp. 120-21; William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, 4 vols. to date
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1991), 3:330-31; Willie
Person Mangum to Washington Hunt, 8 February 1844, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

2 This area is now part of Durham County. The site of what had been the Mangum
homestead is approximately seven miles north of the town of Bahama, along the Hampton
Road between the Mount Tabor Methodist Church and the town of Rougement. Remnants
of a brick foundation, a dilapidated tobacco shed, and a small graveyard, all resting on
heavily-wooded, state-owned property, are all that remain of the old plantation.







17

Some of the more resourceful and less temperate inhabitants of Orange distilled goodly

portions of their grain into whiskey and corn mash to smooth over the rougher edges of

their wearisome frontier lives.3

In the 1740s and 1750s the first permanent European settlers arrived in Orange

County by way of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Primarily of Scotch-Irish and German

descent, they came to North Carolina looking for inexpensive land. Historian David

Hackett Fischer describes these backcountry settlers as violent and "intensely resistant to

change. "4 Striking a similar chord, Russel Nye notes that North Carolina was "a

Jeffersonian stronghold of small farmers," adding that the state "seemed hardly Southern

at all in comparison with its. .neighbors [Virginia and South Carolina]."5 The Regulator

Movement, an early expression of backcountry dissatisfaction with North Carolina's

provincial government, epitomized this tradition of self-reliance and violence. On May

16, 1771, the movement, which had spawned several bloodless riots since its inception in

1766, took a fatal turn when 1,185 militiamen equipped with artillery routed a band of two





3 Robert C. Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange
County. North Carolina, 1849-1881 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press,
1987), pp. 7, 23, 34-36, 38, 42; William Henry Hoyt, ed., The Papers of Archibald D.
Murphy, 2 vols. (Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission, 1914), 1:38

4 David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1989) p. 650; Thomas Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p.
12; Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood, p. 7.

5 Russel Blaine Nye, The Cultural Life of the New Nation. 1776-1830 (New York:
Harper & Row, 1960), p. 114.







18

to three thousand ill-trained Regulators along Alamance Creek in Orange County.6 In spite

of their apparent proclivity for lawlessness and civil disobedience, the people of Orange

County created stable communities characterized by strong kinship networks and very little

geographic mobility. Families tended to cluster in one of Orange's eight "neighborhoods,"

where, as historian Robert Kenzer demonstrates, "family and kinship ties," not wealth,

became the primary factors in determining one's status within the community.7 The people

of Orange also founded towns. Hillsborough, the largest settlement in Orange County,

became a center of social, political, commercial, and cultural activity for this largely rural

county.8

Planters in early nineteenth century North Carolina fed their offspring a steady diet

of corn pone, smoked bacon, and republicanism. While maize and pork had long been

staples in the Tar Heel larder, republicanism was a relative newcomer that succeeded in

redefining gender roles within the family. Functioning primarily as "the dominant unit of


6 The Regulator Movement began in August of 1766 and was centered in Orange,
Rowan, and Anson Counties. Its initial objective was to combat corruption in the
provincial government and place local authorities "under better and honester regulation."
A. Roger Ekirch, Poor Carolina: Politics and Society in Colonial North Carolina. 1729-
1776 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1981), pp. 164-65; Jeffrey,
State Parties and National Politics, p. 13; Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political
and Intellectual Leadership in North Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin,
Publisher, 1961), pp. vii, 48. Fischer, Albion's Seed, pp. 651.

7 Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood, pp. 2, 6, 19.

8 William K. Boyd, "A Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum," 1:3, Willie Person
Mangum Papers, Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina;
Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical
Papers. Published by the Trinity College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University
Press, 1925), p. 9.







19

production and reproduction," the plantation household also became a venue for the

indoctrination of future citizens.9 Republican mothers, exemplars of morality and self-

sacrifice, worked to inculcate these same virtues in their sons and daughters. More

demonstrative than earlier generations, turn-of-the-century planters spoke of their children

in unmistakably sentimental terms, emphasizing the intrinsic worth of their progeny over

their potential value as laborers. Fathers displayed new signs of respect for their sons,

granting them great latitude when it came time for the young man to choose a career.

Evidently, the romanticism expressed in the art and literature of this period had found its

way into the domestic life of genteel North Carolinians.'o

The first Mangums to settle in Orange County were Arthur and Lucy Person

Mangum, Willie Mangum's grandparents. Born in the Spring of 1741 in Surry County,

Virginia, Arthur Mangum was of Welsh ancestry. His parents came to North Carolina in

the late 1740s as part of a great wave of migrants pushing south from Virginia in search




9 Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women
of the Old South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988), p. 48;
Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic. 1776-1787 (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1969), p. 48; For more on the southern diet see Jack
Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life. 1790-1840 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988),
pp. 171-74.

10 Linda Kerber, Women in the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary
America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 11, 52, 283;
Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household, 109, 287-88; Larkin, The Reshaping of
Everyday Life, pp. 52-52; Jane Turner Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their
Children. 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984), pp. xv-xvi,
16-18, 39, 62; Philip Greven, The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing.
Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977),
pp. 265-95.







20

of inexpensive and fertile land. That same exodus carried the family of Arthur's future

bride Lucy. In the early 1760s, Arthur Mangum purchased several tracts of land in the

Flat River neighborhood of Orange County. Arthur Mangum believed that in addition to

providing a richer soil, the higher elevation along the base of Red Mountain would protect

him and his family from the "fever and chills" that plagued folks in the lower lying areas

of the county. Raising tobacco, hogs, cattle, wheat, and corn and marketing their surplus

yield, Arthur and Lucy Mangum soon prospered. At the time of his death in March of

1789, Arthur Mangum's estate included an estimated 950 acres of land and seven slaves.

A substantial portion of this acreage would one day come into the possession of Willie

Mangum."

Lucy and Arthur Mangum raised seven children on their Orange County plantation.

Their first child, William Person Mangum, born in 1762, was Willie Mangum's father.12

Upon the death of his own father in 1789, William inherited 200 acres of land. Over the

course of his life he would augment this bequest by more than 2,300 acres and purchase

at least 21 slaves. An estate of this size placed William Mangum within the ranks of North


'1 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:84-85; 4:242; 5:746-47, 759; Kenzer,
Kinship and Neighborhood, pp. 8-9; Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," in
Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial Times to the Present, Samuel A.
Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917), 5:238; Shirley
Jones Mallard, "Marcus Harris Mangum: His Ancestors and His Descendants," North
Carolina Collection, Durham County Public Library, Durham, North Carolina, pp. 6-15.

12 The exact date of William's birth remains uncertain. Most of the biographical and
genealogical studies relating to the Mangum family give the year as 1762, but always with
the qualifier "circa" placed before the date. McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie P.
Mangum," p. 12; Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," p. 239; Mallard, "Marcus Harris
Mangum," p. 10.






21

Carolina planter society. His system of values, most notably his desire to provide his

children with formal education, reinforced his identification with the ruling element of the

state.'3

Part of the responsibility for managing the family farm and raising the children fell

to William's wife, Catherine Davis Mangum. Born in the Schuylkill River region of

Pennsylvania, Catherine came with her family to Orange County when she was a child.

The exact date of her marriage to William Mangum is unknown. On April 3, 1795 she

gave birth to her second son, Priestly Hinton Mangum, and on January 28, 1798 delivered

a third, Walter Alvis Mangum. All three of her children survived to adulthood. Beyond

these facts little else is known of Willie Mangum's mother. In all probability, Catherine

was a conventional wife and mother who tried to instill in her three boys religious devotion

and republican principles.14 She may have also suffered periodic bouts of depression, a

condition her eldest son feared hereditary. When she died on March 11, 1829, Priestly

Mangum informed his brother Willie that their father was grief stricken and that "the best

and dearest of our family is taken from us."15






'1 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, l:xv; 5:747; Mallard, "Marcus Harris
Mangum," p.13; Federal Records, United States Bureau of the Census, 1800 and 1810;
Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their Children, pp. 42-42.

14 Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their Children, pp. xv, 16-18; Larkin, The
Reshaping of Everyday Life, pp. 52-53; Ariana Holliday Mangum, "A Short History of
the Mangum Family," North Carolina Collection, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, pp. 4-5.

"5 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:358-59, 368.







22

The obvious affection Priestly felt for his mother was equaled, if not surpassed, by

the strong attachment he and his brother Willie had for one another. Their close

companionship, which began in childhood, remained steadfast throughout both their lives.

As schoolmates at the University of North Carolina, Willie and Priestly belonged to the

same debating society and graduated together. As the two matured so did their

relationship. Priestly, who built a successful law practice in Hillsborough, became Willie

Mangum's most trusted confidant. The younger Mangum gave his brother political advice

and looked after his personal and financial affairs while the elder Mangum was away from

Red Mountain. The respective skills and temperaments of Willie and Priestly worked to

their mutual advantage. Priestly, the more scholarly of the two, expressed his political

views freely and without fear of offending his listeners, a habit that rendered him ill-suited

to a political career. John Chavis, a mutual acquaintance of the two brothers, attributed

Priestly's misfortunes at the polls to his "stubborn unyielding disposition" and his habit of

condescension.16 However, his legal expertise and social contacts made him a valuable

asset to his brother. Priestly also appears to have been more cautious in matters

concerning his personal health and safety. His rejection of excess in every form, for

example, contrasted sharply with the recklessness exhibited by his brother, who often

drove his sulky at high speeds and overindulged in alcohol. Surprisingly, their differences

proved more often to be a source of amusement then a cause for discord. As an expression

of his profound admiration and respect for his older sibling, Priestly named his second son


16 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:414.







23

Willie P. Mangum, Jr.'7 Shortly after Priestly's death in 1850, a deeply depressed and

dispirited Willie Mangum wrote of his late brother, that for "all his peculiarities" he was

"the best, & most honest male friend that I had in the world."'"

By way of contrast, Willie Mangum's relationship with his brother Walter could

best be described as ambivalent. The most mercenary of the three Mangum brothers,

Walter's quest for wealth carried him far from Red Mountain. He left home with few

regrets. His friends gone and the land "poor and barren," he could think of no reason to

stay. Even his involvement in a hunting accident that claimed the life of his brother-in-law

did not compel him to return to the comfort of his family."9 In 1832 he prospected for

gold in the mountains of western North Carolina. By the following year Walter had

relocated with his wife and children in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. There he earned

a living raising cotton, trading in slaves, and speculating in land. By 1856, Walter's

wanderlust had taken him to Louisiana by way of Alabama. Seven years later he fled with

his family to Texas to avoid the turmoil of the Civil War. After the war, the refugees





17 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:14; 5:99, 749-50; Evidence of Priestly
Mangum's role as a political and financial advisor to his brother can be found in all five
volumes of Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. For just a few examples see, 1:97,
118, 300, 366; 2:117-18, 378-79, 395-97; 3:143, 191; 4:299-300, 377; 5:13, 177; Boyd,
"A Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum," 8:2; Nathan Sargent, Public Men and Events:
From the Commencement of Mr. Monroe's Administration. in 1817. to the Close of Mr.
Fillmore's Administration. in 1853, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1875),
2:211.

'8 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:200.

19 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 2:48, 339.







24

returned to Louisiana, where Walter died on January 20, 1868.20 The physical distance

separating Willie Mangum from his brother Walter may well explain an emotional

dissonance between the two. Writing to his wife in 1836, Willie Mangum said of Walter,

"I fear [Walter] is never to come to good & yet I feel the strongest & most painful anxiety

on his account."21 The passage of time did not bridge this gap. In 1854 Walter lamented

to his older brother, "I feel we live too cold & inattentive to each other."22 Despite

Walter's plaint, there is no evidence to suggest that their differences were ever completely

resolved.

Like many planters in North Carolina, William and Catherine Mangum established

a general store on the grounds of their estate, near the intersection of the Oxford and

Hillsborough highways. The store may have generated additional income for the family,

but, more significantly, it placed the Mangums at the center of community life. On its

shelves customers could expect to see canisters of tea, coffee, sugar, spices, salt, candy,

and fruit as well as a wide array of nonperishables, soap, ribbons, cutlery, gloves, and

boots. The store was also a locus of social and political activity. Neighbors and strangers




20 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:571; 2:48, 338-39; 3:211, 287, 295-
96; 5:312; Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," p. 239.

21 Willie Person Mangum to Charity Mangum, 17 April 1836, Willie Person Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Walter's later involvement in
the slave trade may have contributed to his estrangement from his brother Willie.
Mangum family tradition alleges that Willie Mangum prohibited his daughter Mary from
marrying a slave trader because he found the occupation disreputable. Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum, 5:760.

22 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:298.






25

gathered there to read newspapers, drink spirits, converse, and gamble. On election day

the Mangum's place served as the local polling center and throughout the year it

functioned as a post office. In his youth, Willie Mangum worked at the store, where he

learned the art of debate from customers who would sit for hours and argue about the latest

political controversy or local event. Willie Mangum rapidly acquired a flair for oratory

and an ability to joke and mingle with people that would prove useful in his public life.23

Young Willie Mangum's responsibilities at the store included more than simple

clerking. His name appears alongside his father's in an account receipt dated May 30,

1807, suggesting that local merchants recognized the younger Mangum as a partner in the

business. His father also entrusted him to collect debts from customers who had left the

area without meeting their obligations. In 1808, Willie and one of his father's slaves

traveled to eastern Tennessee to retrieve a man who had defaulted on his debt to the elder

Mangum. Willie Mangum's journey into the Tennessee wilderness was not his first

adventure away from Red Mountain. Late in 1802, he had stowed away aboard a tobacco

wagon bound for market in Petersburg, Virginia. Once the party had gone too far to make

the boy's return home impractical, Willie made his appearance, but William gave his son

a lesson by placing him on horseback, where the cold autumn air gave the boy reason to

regret his mischief. Despite such minor challenges to parental authority, William Mangum

allowed his son to decide for himself which career he would pursue. When Willie


23 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, l:xvi, 1; 5:748; Kenzer, Kinship and
Neighborhood, pp. 20, 37; Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social
History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937), pp. 98-99; Larkin, The
Reshaping of Everyday Life, p. 174.







26

confessed that he was "not cut out to handle a yardstick, and never expected to be a

merchant," his father apparently never questioned his decision.24

Having learned the rudiments of farming and business at Red Mountain, Willie

Mangum left home to begin his formal education. In 1809 and 1810, Mangum attended

the Fayetteville Academy, where he studied under the Reverend Colin Mclver. Before

that, he had trained privately under Thomas A. Flint and a local African-American

educator named John Chavis.25 He studied briefly at the Hillsborough Academy before

enrolling at the Raleigh Academy early in 1811. There he worked under the tutelage of

the Reverend Dr. William McPheeters. One of the finest preparatory schools in the state,

the Raleigh Academy offered courses in reading and writing at a cost of three dollars per

quarter. Students willing to invest two dollars more were also taught "advanced" English

and the classics. Mangum's test scores indicate that he had paid the higher sum. On June



24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:1; 5:747-49; Censer, North Carolina
Planters and Their Children, pp. xvi, 62.

Mangum's exact relationship to John Chavis has been a subject of debate. Edgar W.
Knight, Chavis' biographer, contends that the pedagogue's lifelong correspondence with
both Willie and Priestly, particularly the manner in which he addressed the two, suggest
a teacher-student relationship. Chavis referred to his former pupils as "my sons," a phrase
he used frequently when referring to the Mangum brothers. The fact that neither Willie
nor Priestly ever protested the use of this informal expression lends circumstantial support
to Knight's contention. Dr. Archibald Henderson, author of a biographical sketch of
Mangum published in the Durham Herald Sun, argued that the Chavis-Mangum connection
was a fiction concocted by Knight in order to exaggerate the importance of his subject.
Henderson offers no evidence to back his claims. Similarly, Mangum Turner, Willie
Mangum's great-grandson, refutes Knight's contention without offering contradictory
evidence. Edgar W. Knight, "Notes on John Chavis," North Carolina Historical Review
7 (1930): 326, 345; Herald Sun (Durham) 6 October 1935; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum, 1:315-318, 506-508, 574-576; 3:478; 4:186-188; 5:753.







27

21, 1811, the Raleigh Star reported that he had "excelled" in the academy's semi-annual

examinations, earning distinction for his comprehension of the "Odes of Homer" and

"Greek Testament. "26

Mangum's intellect also impressed Archibald Haralson, his roommate during his

first term at the University of North Carolina at nearby Chapel Hill. On September 13,

1811, Haralson wrote that Mangum had "a mind of a speculative turn and was gifted with

more than ordinary sagacity." Together the two young students studied Hume, Lucian,

and others and discussed the "arguments and accuracy of their deductions." And while

their conversations often digressed into the realm of "absurdity," Haralson found them to

be enjoyable and beneficial.27 The following spring, Mangum returned to the Raleigh

Academy, this time as an instructor. While there, he again caught the attention of the

local press. Representing the Raleigh Polemic Society, Mangum delivered a Fourth of

July oration before an audience at the state capital, which the Raleigh Register described

as "handsome and appropriate. "28

Mangum attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1811 to

1815. At the time the institution was small, employing a staff of three professors and one

tutor. Like most southern colleges in the early nineteenth century, the University of North


26 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, l:xvi; 2:44-45; Weeks, "Willie Person
Mangum," p. 239; Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina, pp. 286-288; Raleigh Star, 21
June 1811. Hillsborough Recorder, 11 September 1861.

27 Hoyt, The Papers of Archibald D. Murphy, 1:54.

28 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:3; 5:417, 460; Raleigh Register, 10
July 1812; Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina, p. 323.







28

Carolina continued to emphasize classical Greek and Latin literature and theology.

University rules required students to attend public worship every Sunday. Tuition, room,

board, and other expenses amounted to about fifty-eight dollars per session. The academic

year was divided into two sessions: the first running from early January to late May, and

the second extending from the middle of June to the middle of November. The students

enjoyed active social lives, carefully balancing their schedules to accommodate both their

lessons and the young women of Chapel Hill. In later years Willie Mangum would recall

his days at the University as the happiest of his life, "when in 'sweet dalliance' we pluck

the gay primrose & scarcely feel the thorn. "29

Mangum most enjoyed his association with the Dialectic Society, one of the

campus' two debating clubs. "The Dialectic Society," he wrote in 1838, "is more

endeared to my memories & more interesting to my affections than perhaps even our

venerable 'Alma Mater.'"3' When he joined the organization in 1811, Mangum found

himself in the company of young men who shared common intellectual, social, and

regional backgrounds. The Dialectic Society drew its members primarily from the

piedmont and western part of the state, while its opposite, the Philanthropic Society,

recruited its members from the eastern counties. Clearly, the regionalism that defined



29 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:5-6; 2:529; Wyatt-Brown, Southern
Honor, pp. 92-94; McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie P. Mangum," p. 15; Kemp
Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, vol. 1: From Its Beginning to the
Death of President Swain. 1789-1868 (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company,
1907), p. 230.

30 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 2:529.







29

North Carolina politics during this period was evident in the social intercourse that

prevailed at the University. The political alliances of the late 1820s were also partly

determined by former club membership. Many young men whose names appeared on the

rolls of the Dialectic Society would later occupy the highest offices in state and national

politics. Among its distinguished alumni were future President James K. Polk, future

United States Senators William Henry Haywood and Bedford Brown, future United States

Representative Romulus Sanders, and future North Carolina Governors John Motley

Morehead and Charles Manly. The connections Mangum made as a member of the society

would serve him well in his political career.31

Beyond affording Mangum important professional and social contacts, the Dialectic

Society gave him an opportunity to improve his debating, oratorical, and writing skills.

He also learned about parliamentary procedure. Members conducted their weekly

meetings with great formality, tolerating only the most innocent breaches of etiquette.

Repeated violations of the organization's bylaws resulted in expulsion from the society.

During Willie's tenure, the organization dismissed only one member while admitting

scores of applicants. Willie served on several committees, including one created to

establish a code of moral conduct for society members, and from March 17 to April 7,



31 University of North Carolina Dialectic Society Records, Minutes, 1812-1818,
University of North Carolina Archives, Chapel Hill; "Catalogue of the Members of the
Dialectic Society Instituted in the University of North Carolina June 3, 1795, Together
with Historical Sketches," Printed for the Society, 1890, Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:7;
Max R. Williams, "William A. Graham: North Carolina Whig Party Leader, 1804-1849,"
(Ph. D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1965), pp. 28-29.







30

1814 he acted as presiding officer. The society sponsored a library for the private use of

its members. There they would prepare their debates, the highlight of the weekly

assembly. A review of the topics assigned, as well as the conclusions reached, reveals the

character of the club's members. On August 26, 1813, romantics won the day with the

assertion that love had a "greater effect on the minds of men" than fear. Such idealism

appears to have been the exception, not the rule. One week earlier the polemicists had

answered the question, "Is the prosperity of a nation promoted by continual peace?" in the

negative. The group also decided that it would be impolitic to emancipate the slaves or

grant foreign-born citizens the same privileges reserved for native-born Americans. The

conservative bent of society members is evident in both the questions they chose to debate

and the answers they agreed to record.32 In 1858, more than forty years after leaving

Chapel Hill, Mangum professed that "many of my most happy and agreeable

reminiscences are most interestingly entwined" with the Dialectic Society. His sympathy

for its collegial function and political principles remained undiminished by the passage of

time.33

The onset of war with Great Britain in 1812 disrupted Mangum's idyllic interlude

at Chapel Hill. The conflict exacerbated divisions between critics and supporters of the

Madison Administration. These differences were especially acute in North Carolina,

where Federalism remained a viable political force. Despite their genuine attempts to


32 University of North Carolina Dialectic Society Records, Minutes, 1812-1818,
University of North Carolina Archives, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

33 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:356.






31

appear supportive of the American war effort, Federalists were unable to dissociate

themselves from the antiwar sentiments they had expressed before the outbreak of

hostilities. As the war dragged on and victory seemed more elusive, Tar Heels polarized

into pro- and anti-Administration camps. These divisions eventually found their way onto

the campus of the University of North Carolina and into the home of university president

Robert Hett Chapman." Chapman's frequent criticism of the war enraged his Republican

students. In January of 1814 a group of pro-war activists ransacked the president's home,

ran off with some of his property, and broke into the president's stable, where they cut the

tail off his horse. Outraged, Chapman conducted a thorough investigation of the crime,

but the hearing soon degenerated into a witch-hunt, as Chapman allowed hearsay and

conjecture to implicate several innocent students. Among the witnesses called to give

evidence was Willie Mangum, whose testimony included speculative answers to leading

questions.35 Mangum's cooperation with the sham trial led some of his contemporaries to

question his allegiance and condemn him as an informer and a collaborator. Years later

his political opponents revived the episode in the Jacksonian press in an attempt to portray






34 Federalists occupied as many as 40 percent of the seats in the North Carolina House
of Commons during the war. James Broussard, "The North Carolina Federalists, 1800-
1816," North Carolina Historical Review 55 (1978): 19, 36-37, 39; James Broussard, The
Southern Federalists, 1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978),
p. 154-56, 176; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North
Carolina, 1815-1835," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 15-16,
21.


35 Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, p. 233-36.







32

their rival as a reactionary and a "blue light federal speechifier."36 Mangum never tried

to hide his early political sympathies. On September 24, 1814, fellow student Stephen

Sneed was pleased to inform Mangum that "the good old cause of Federalism continues

triumphant" on the campus of the University of North Carolina.37 In fact, Mangum's

affiliation with the Federalist Party would continue as long as the party remained intact.

On June 16, 1815, Willie Person Mangum graduated from the University of North

Carolina. The day-long commencement ceremony featured speeches, an oration on

"natural philosophy" and four debates. Of the eighteen students to graduate that day,

Willie Mangum was the only one who did not participate in any of the presentations.

Mangum's absence from the podium suggests that he was the only member of his class to

be denied academic honors. Despite his meager record, Mangum's affiliation with the

University did not end on that summer day. In 1818, he earned a Master of Arts degree.

That same year he became a trustee, a post he would hold until 1858. As a member of the

prestigious board, Mangum helped restore solvency to the institution after years of

declining enrollment and decreased funding. In 1845, the University rewarded his

achievements with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Ironically, two of Mangum's

most powerful political adversaries, President James K. Polk and Attorney General John

Young Mason, received similar honors that same day. Throughout his life Mangum would




36 North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 15 December 1835; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum, 2:365-66.

37 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:5; Broussard, The Southern Federalists,
pp. 181-82, 192.







33

remain loyal to his alma mater, advising friends to educate their sons at Chapel Hill and

working to promote the interests of his fellow alumni.38

At the time of his graduation Mangum looked ahead to a bright future. His

optimism was well founded, for his early training and experiences had adequately prepared

him for the legal career he anticipated. From his first days on the family farm at Red

Mountain to the long hours spent at the general store, he had gained a unique

understanding of the people of Orange County. Local kinship networks gave him the

support and influence needed by every new applicant to the bar. His academic training

was likewise sufficient to the task set before him. By the standards of his neighbors,

Mangum was a child of privilege. He had been given a good education and made

important social contacts along the way. As he grew older these assets would prove

invaluable. The foundation set at Red Mountain and elsewhere enabled him to move

comfortably in elite social circles and provided him access to the highest reaches of power.















38 Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, pp. 247, 325-26, 496, 788, 823;
General Alumni Association, The University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: Alumni
Directory (Durham: Seeman Printery, Inc., 1954), p. 590; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum, 4:240, 306-307; 5:461.













CHAPTER 2
JUDGE MANGUM


Within ten years of his graduation from the University of North Carolina, Willie

Mangum was already becoming one of the most influential figures in state politics. The

protege of the well-connected Duncan Cameron, he had established a successful law

practice, started a family, and served in both the state and federal governments. His rise

to the North Carolina Superior Court in 1819 at the age of twenty seven won him the title,

"Judge," an honorific which he never relinquished, despite future achievements. The

appellation elevated his status beyond his ordinary lineage. The work, however, involved

inconveniences that sometimes seemed to mock the deference due his judicial robes. He

frequently complained about squalid living quarters, poor health, and dangerous roads --

so much so that Mangum never seemed happy riding the circuits and looked impatiently

for an advancement far from such discomforts. At this juncture Willie Mangum developed

his public persona. A favorite in courtrooms and on the hustings, he possessed an uncanny

knack for anticipating the public will and adapting his mannerisms and voice accordingly.

This receptiveness to change served him well in a time of political flux, as politicians

scrambled to adjust to new circumstances.'


Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 1:28-31, 35-36; 5:461, 750-751, 754-
55.






35

Willie Mangum left the University of North Carolina bent on pursuing a life in

politics. Like many others of his generation, he thought legal training the most

appropriate way to prepare for that career. The custom of the day dictated that he find a

patron with whom to study the law and aid his ambitions. Such a mentor was Duncan

Cameron, a neighboring planter with ties to the state leadership. The son of an Anglican

minister, the Virginia-born Cameron had made his fortune in agriculture before entering

the North Carolina House of Commons as a Federalist in 1802. By 1824, he had served

five terms in the lower chamber and three in the state Senate. An advocate of state

funding for internal improvement projects, he also served intermittently as the president

of the Bank of North Carolina, sat as a trustee of the University of North Carolina, and

was once the clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Between 1814 and 1816

Cameron, who was also a prominent attorney, served as a judge on the Superior Court.

At the time of his death in 1853, he was one of the wealthiest men in the state, with

several plantations and more than one thousand slaves.2

Duncan Cameron and his family made their home at Fairntosh, a plantation located

approximately eight miles from Mangum's place of birth. It was here that Mangum



2 Biographical sketch of Duncan Cameron, Cameron Family Papers, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; William
S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, 4 vols. to date (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1991), 1:311-312; Harold J. Counihan, "North
Carolina 1815-1836: State and Local Perspectives on the Age of Jackson," (Ph. D.
dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1971), p. 64; James H.
Broussard, "The North Carolina Federalists, 1800-1816," North Carolina Historical
Review 55 (1978): 40; Sharon Kettering, "The Historical Development of Political
Clientism," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18 (1988): 425-26.







36

studied law. In exchange for his patronage, Cameron asked that Mangum tutor his two

young sons, Thomas and Paul. The nature of Mangum's relationship with Thomas, the

older of the two boys, is unclear. Born mentally disabled, Thomas never married and

apparently did not have much contact with Mangum after he left the services of the

Cameron family. Conversely, Paul developed a special rapport with his preceptor and the

two became fast friends. Mangum's lifelong obligation to the Cameron family appears to

have been a debt he paid without complaint. A grateful client, he would later use his

political influence to assist both Duncan and Paul. He promoted Duncan Cameron's

political fortunes, at times at some personal sacrifice, and often turned to his patron for

council during election campaigns. Throughout his life, Paul Cameron, who would later

inherit and expand his father's estate, advised Mangum on matters of local importance and

lent financial assistance to the Mangum family.3

Willie Mangum excelled in his legal studies. An eager student, he spent his

afternoons reading in the law office of Duncan Cameron and his evenings privately

reviewing the day's lessons in his room at Fairntosh. Working well into the night, often

by the light of a single candle, his alacrity won him the admiration of his mentor. The

study of law in early nineteenth century North Carolina was an inexact science. The time

allotted for aspiring lawyers to complete their education was indefinite. Applicants simply

took the bar exam when they felt ready. As a judge of the Superior Court, Duncan

Cameron had the authority to administer the state bar exam to his pupil. It remains


3 Powell, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, 1:312; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum, 1:69, 82-84, 88-89; 2:291, 435, 528.







37

unknown if he chose to exercise this right; what is known is that Mangum passed the test.

According to one historian, Mangum's success was not unusual, for the test was a mere

formality. Nearly every student who took the bar exam during this period passed it.4

On March 2, 1817, the Superior Courts of Law and the Courts of Equity for the

state of North Carolina granted Willie Mangum a license to practice law. The new

advocate wasted little time in establishing a name for himself. Riding the fourth circuit,

he moved from one courthouse to the next, building a reputation and making important

contacts. He took on both criminal and civil cases and quickly mastered the art of

manipulating his audience. Tall, good looking, and well dressed, the eloquent young

attorney impressed jurors with his colorful, sometimes theatrical, displays. His face

contorted, his lips quivering, his arms waving, Mangum would begin closing arguments

in a whisper that rose with each syllable until the courtroom echoed with the sound of his

deep voice. An ability to express complex ideas without ever condescending to listeners

sat well with folks who appreciated the show of respect. When defending his kin,

Mangum held nothing in reserve: any tactic was fair game when his client's freedom or

life was at stake. One appreciative cousin claimed that Mangum's unrelenting cross-









4 Fannie Memory Farmer, "The Bar Examination and the Beginning Years of Legal
Practice in North Carolina, 1820-1860," North Carolina Historical Review 29 (1952):
160-163; Hillsborough Recorder, 11 September 1861; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum, 5:750.







38

examination of an unfriendly witness kept him out of prison. In time, Mangum's hard

work would pay handsomely. For now, however, his thoughts turned to politics.5

Willie Mangum made his first bid for elective office at a time when the first party

system, such as it was, had disintegrated. Prior to 1815, Federalism had been an

important force in North Carolina. Strongest in the eastern counties, party lines in North

Carolina mirrored long-standing regional divisions. Although reduced to a minority party

after the election of 1800, Federalists continued to hold seats in both houses of the state

legislature. As late as 1815, one third of state officeholders identified themselves as

Federalists. Following the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans and the

conclusion of the war against Great Britain, many North Carolina Federalists began to

assert that the absence of a foreign threat had rendered political parties obsolete and had

ushered in an "era of good feelings." Skeptics saw this as an attempt by the North

Carolina Federalists to distance themselves from their counterparts in New England and

the discredited Hartford Convention; perhaps, but the debate had changed. During the

1790s, competing forces within President George Washington's cabinet polarized over the

conduct of American foreign policy. This factionalism gradually reached the state level,

giving rise to an embryonic party system. With the Treaty of Ghent, old questions






5 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Party Politics in North Carolina. 1835-1860 (Durham:
Seeman Printery, 1916), p. 32; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:9-10, 15, 34,
53; 5:417, 433-434; Hillsborough Recorder, 11 September 1861; Priestly Mangum's
License to Practice Law, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.







39

appeared settled and many officials in North Carolina and elsewhere found themselves in

search of a cause around which they could rally the faithful.6

The postwar nationalist agenda of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and other up-and-

coming politicians proved to be the stimulant for political realignment in North Carolina.

Naturally suspicious of any attempt to expand the powers of the central government,

former Federalists formed the core of southern opposition to a national bank, the tariff,

and federally funded internal improvements. Economic issues had eclipsed foreign policy

as the primary source of dissonance in American politics. One constant factor in this

atmosphere of uncertainty was the leadership. Despite new issues, new alliances, and

egalitarian pretensions, the same class of men responsible for guiding North Carolina

through the first party system would guide her through the second. Constitutional limits

on suffrage, property qualifications for office holders, and the "voluntary deference" of

the electorate assured that power would remain in the hands of the landed elite.7




6 James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists, 1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1978), 181-183; Richard P. McCormick, The Second American
Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: The University of
North Carolina Press, 1966), pp. 200; For the best account of party formation during the
1790s see Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate
Opposition in the United States. 1790-1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1969.

7 Quote from Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The
Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 91; Broussard, The Southern
Federalist, p. 183; Thomas E. Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina.
1815-1861 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 51; Marc W. Kruman, Parties
and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana Press, 1983), p. 11.







40

The old lines dividing Federalists and Republicans had lost their significance.

Leaders drifted from one faction to the next without regard to previous affiliation.

Increasingly, personalities became the focal point of state and local elections, as office

seekers and voters adjusted their allegiance with each new contest. Even before the

collapse of the first party system, partisan identification among the electorate in North

Carolina had been weak. Officials failed to create enduring organizations. Besides facing

formidable logistic barriers -- most notably inadequate transportation and communication

networks -- potential organizers confronted a populace hostile to the very idea of party.

Most Americans regarded them as unnecessary, antithetical to republican institutions, and

a threat to liberty. This prepartisan political culture dictated the nature of political

discourse in early nineteenth century North Carolina. Candidates avoided any action that

could be interpreted as advancing the interests of the few at the expense of the many. So

while partisan identification remained a loose determinant of voting behavior during

presidential elections, local elections continued to center on the personalities of the

contestants.



8 Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, pp. 66, 70, 80-81, 87;
McCormick, The Second American Party System, pp. 177, 200; Richard L. McCormick,
The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the
Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 157; Max R. Williams,
"Reemergence of the Two Party System," in The North Carolina Experience: An
Interpretive and Documentary History, eds. Lindley S. Butler and Alan D. Watson
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 242; For an excellent study
describing the role modern transportation and communication networks played in the
formation of mass political parties see, Ronald P. Formisano, The Transformation of
Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties. 1790s-1840s (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1983).







41

Political power in North Carolina rested in the legislative branch of the state

government and in the county courts. The state Constitution of 1776 provided for a weak

executive, elected annually by the state legislature. Really nothing more than a

figurehead, the governor had no veto power and controlled very little patronage. By way

of contrast, the state legislature was "almost omnipotent. "9 Invested with the authority to

appoint members of the judiciary, legislators also recommended local justices of the peace,

who in turn dominated the county courts. The average North Carolinian rarely had any

contact with state and national officials. To them, government meant the county courts,

which had jurisdiction in most criminal and civil suits, performed essential legislative and

administrative duties, and levied 75 percent of the taxes paid into state coffers. In effect,

the bicameral legislature controlled, either by direct or indirect means, all levels of

government within the state. Membership within that body was extremely fluid.

Freshmen lawmakers comprised 40 to 45 percent of each new assembly. Despite the high

turnover, the demographic makeup of the State House changed little from one year to the

next. Property qualifications of three hundred acres of land for state senators and one

hundred acres for commoners, precluded most Tar Heels from seeking elective office.10

Willie Mangum entered this milieu in 1818 with his first run for North Carolina

House of Commons, the lower chamber of the General Assembly. The former farm boy



9 Kruman, Parties and Politics, p.45.

'1 McCormick, The Second American Party System, pp. 199-200; Counihan, "North
Carolina 1815-1836," pp. 42-43, 170; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 12, 45-46;
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 50.







42

proved well suited to the rough and tumble of rural Orange County politics. In an age

when voters expected their politicians to be both entertaining and edifying, campaigns took

on a carnival atmosphere. As candidates debated on makeshift platforms, potential voters

listened with rapt attention. During lulls in the formal proceedings, townsfolk could be

found wrestling, wagering on horse races and other games of chance, or picnicking on the

fare provided by their hosts. "Treating," a custom whereby office seekers provided their

audiences with hard liquor and food, remained a common practice, despite having been

outlawed at the turn of the century. Candidates also took advantage of court days, Sunday

sermons, militia musters, and any other ready-made gathering, to deliver their messages

or confront opponents."

Willie Mangum felt at ease in these surroundings. Listeners appreciated his refusal

to alter his speaking style with each new crowd. He abhorred the disingenuousness of

well-heeled speakers who adopted folksy language when addressing rural audiences.

Instead, he proudly displayed his erudition. Mangum's candor provided a welcome

change. His impressive physique, mellifluous voice, and ready wit endeared him to local

audiences. In addition to engaging voters from the stump, he often canvassed from house

to house, concentrating on dwellings rumored to be unfriendly to his candidacy. Clearly,

he was one of them, a local plebeian who had risen by the dint of his own labor to become

a member of the ruling class. He embodied both the promise of democracy and the



McCormick, The Second American Party System, p. 201; Daniel M. McFarland,
"Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North Carolina, 1815-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation,
University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 27-28.







43

paradox of an egalitarian society; he had become a man of the people by rising above the

people. They granted him their deference and allowed him to shape public opinion. In

August of 1818, the citizens of Orange honored Mangum by electing him one of their two

representatives to the House of Commons.12

In November of 1818, Mangum journeyed to Raleigh to take his seat in the

assembly. The dusty streets of the little state capital were lined with brick and wooden

buildings. A four-story brick tavern called Casso's stood as the tallest structure in town,

and the three-storied Eagle Hotel offered visitors the most comfortable accommodations.

Legislators who did not stay at the Eagle or one of the city's four other hotels, took

lodgings at private rooming houses. In the evenings, lawmakers would gather at Casso's,

the Indian Queen, or one of several other local taverns near the Capitol to drink, dine and

relax after the day's work. Conversation often turned to politics, as debates begun at the

State House concluded in the ale house. Politicians cemented their alliances over an apple

brandy or glass of whiskey. Raleigh's informal style of politics aided newcomers like

Mangum, whose personal charms worked to a much greater effect when lubricated by

alcohol. Receptions at the Governor's mansion and "subscription balls" offered additional

opportunities for young assemblymen to ingratiate themselves with senior officials outside

the formal confines of the State House.13



12 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:430, 434; Martha Person Mangum,
Diary, 12 June 1853, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.; North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 21 August 1818.

13 Counihan, "North Carolina 1815-1836," pp. 34-36.







44

In taverns and in the Capitol, Mangum forged alliances with some of North

Carolina's leading statesmen. Orange County state senator Archibald DeBow Murphey

proved an important ally during Mangum's first term. A close friend of Duncan Cameron,

Murphey championed state funding for internal improvements at a time when many North

Carolinians were reluctant to fund expensive projects. Mangum also associated with

William Gaston, who, like Murphey, was a Federalist of long-standing repute. Bartlett

Yancey, the powerful Speaker of the State Senate, likewise worked with the first-term

commoner, albeit in an unofficial capacity.4

Clearly, Mangum had acted in his own best interests when selecting his

confederates. Powerful men one and all, Murphey, Gaston, and Yancey would later assist

Mangum in his ascent up the ladder of state and national politics. However, these

alliances must also be understood within the context of regional factionalism in North

Carolina. Divisions between wealthy eastern counties and the less prosperous west formed

the basis of factional disputes as old as the state itself. Intermittent regional conflict, in

evidence during the colonial period, became more pronounced with the collapse of the first

party system. East vied with West over questions concerning state funding for internal

improvements, judicial reform, and constitutional revision. The more conservative

elements in the state, represented primarily by the eastern counties, subverted repeated

efforts by western lawmakers to rewrite the state constitution. At issue was the question



14 Ibid., pp. 73-75, 103-105; Julian Mclver Pleasants, "The Political Career of Willie
Person Mangum, 1828-1840," (M.A. Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
1962), p. 7.







45

of representation. The Constitution of 1776 stipulated that each county, no matter the

number of inhabitants, was entitled to one state senator and two commoners. In time, the

twenty-five counties of the rapidly expanding west outstripped the thirty-seven eastern

counties. Westerners resented the disproportionate power of the east and fought to make

population the basis of representation in the lower house. Unwilling to bear the burden

of higher taxes, wealthy Eastern leaders used their numerical advantage to block funding

for expensive improvement projects, thus retarding the economic growth of the entire

state. As a spokesman for Western interests, Mangum naturally gravitated toward

lawmakers who shared his neighbors' desire to reform the constitution and finance the

construction of roads and canals. So while his early associations may have been personally

advantageous, they also benefited his constituency."

As a first-term Commoner, Mangum backed his powerful friends while retaining

some degree of independence. He voted with the majority in favor of William Gaston's

bill creating a state Supreme Court. Unquestionably the most meaningful legislation

passed that session, Gaston's Judicial Reform Bill enjoyed wide support in western North

Carolina. Mangum's affirmative vote, therefore, could only enhance his reputation with

the people of Orange. He also voted "yea" on the issue of constitutional revision. This

time his efforts came to naught: the General Assembly rejected a proposal to place the

convention question on an upcoming ballot. Distancing himself from the pro-Bank stand



15 Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, pp. 49-54; William S. Hoffman, "Willie
P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," The Journal of
Southern History 22 (1956): 339.







46

of his patron Duncan Cameron, Mangum opposed a move to increase the capital reserves

of three state banks. Mindful of popular prejudices, he spoke to his constituent's deep-

seeded suspicion of powerful institutions when he harangued "banking institutions in

general.""6 His work on the Committee on Public Education reunited him with his old

classmate, Romulus Saunders. It submitted a plan to build schools in the outlying counties

of the state. The assembly adjourned without acting on the measure, but not before

Mangum had established himself as a friend of both education reform and western

interests. In his first attempt at writing legislation, Mangum sponsored a bill designed to

streamline the state's byzantine inheritance codes. Again, the act died with the end of the

session. Finally, he acted on behalf of private citizens who had grievances with the state

government. Over the course of the session, Mangum presented at least two petitions from

individuals demanding payment on debts owed by the state. To be sure, he understood the

reciprocity essential to reelection in a district as small as his own. On December 26,

1818, the session that began with high hopes ended in disappointment. Mangum had

learned firsthand that politics in the Old North State moved at an excruciatingly slow

pace. 1




16 Raleigh Register, 24 December 1818.

17 North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons (Raleigh:
State Printer, 1818), pp. 1, 16, 47; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 75-78, 80;
Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," in Biographical History of North Carolina:
From Colonial Times to the Present, Samuel A. Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles
L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917), 5:239-40; Raleigh Register, 27 November; 4, 11, 18, 24
December 1818.







47

The impatient young attorney could hardly wait to resume his practice. Within four

months of his return from Raleigh, he had turned a tidy profit. On April 20, 1819, he

reported his good fortune to his brother Priestly, who had started his own practice nearly

two years earlier. That Spring alone, he crowed, he had earned "upwards of $1900 in

actual receipts." This new-found wealth enabled Mangum to travel in a style befitting the

country squire he aspired to be. No longer did he ride on horseback with his legal briefs

stuffed in saddlebags. Now he traversed the country roads in an "elegant," yet durable,

sulky. "My prospects in the practice," he added optimistically, "continue to grow more

flattering." Unfortunately, his prosperity proved short lived: Throughout his life,

Mangum would be burdened with debt. Ever the romantic, he closed his letter with the

news of his impending marriage. "I may be married this summer," he informed Priestly,

adding that he would know better once he had concluded urgent business that awaited him

in Raleigh. "You see what a romantic lover I am," he quipped, "[I] speak of settling the

business when speaking of love, how cold, how business like, & how ridiculous. "'

The object of Mangum's awkwardly expressed affection was Charity Alston Cain,

the daughter of Sarah Alston Dudley and William Cain of Orange County. Born February

16, 1795, she had courted Willie for a short time before he asked for her hand. Family

tradition tells of young Willie's persistence with Charity's father, who twice turned away

the eager suitor before sanctioning the union. A wealthy planter from the Little River

neighborhood, William Cain considered the struggling attorney a poor match for his


18 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Manzum, 1:14-15.







48

daughter. Mangum's family background, future prospects, and youth worked against him,

for Cain had hoped to strengthen his own standing in the community by marrying his

daughter to an older gentleman of means. A shared animosity between William Mangum,

Willie's father, and William Cain only complicated the romance. Mangum did not share

his prospective father-in-law's pessimism. To him, the future looked bright. The money

generated by his practice, he thought, was enough to support a family. Indeed, Mangum

agreed that no man should marry until his finances were in order. In any event, the two

were in love. The practical and financial concerns of William had little meaning for

Willie.19

As the daughter of one of the largest landowners in the county, Charity Cain

enjoyed superior wealth and status to that of her beau. In denying Mangum's first two

applications, William Cain had acted in what he thought were the best interests of his

family. His caution was understandable. Planter society abounded with fortune hunters

trying to attach themselves to wealthy families. Mangum's decision to seek a bride outside

his Flat River neighborhood might have lent him the appearance of one of these ne'er-do-

wells, giving William Cain good cause for trepidation. Traditionally, matches between

couples from different neighborhoods meant that one or both of the families involved were

trying to establish favorable social and economic ties. Men and women interested solely

in strengthening kinship networks married within their own neighborhoods. Surely,


Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:14-16; 5:265, 461, 759; Martha Person
Mangum, Diary, 30 January 1853, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.; Ariana Holliday Mangum, "A Short History of the Mangum
Family," North Carolina Collection, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, p. 8.







49

Mangum, who had no blood ties to the Cain family, stood to benefit by the arrangement.

So while Cain would not go so far as to arrange his daughter's marriage, he did reserve

the right to interview hopeful bridegrooms. Having received Cain's begrudging consent,

Willie proposed to Charity. She accepted and on September 30, 1818, the two were

married.20

At their first meeting, Mangum might very well have regarded Charity's pedigree

as her finest feature. If that were the case, it was a short-lived infatuation. Letters written

over the course of both their lives reveal a deep, abiding love affair. Much enamored of

his wife's beauty and sexuality, Willie often favored her with eloquent expressions of his

adoration. "Indeed my dear," he wrote shortly after their marriage, "absence teaches me

how rich a jewel my heart has treasured up, in my Dear lovely Wife.""2 The sexual

allusions in his prose are unmistakable. "Indeed you must not think it romantic that my

bosom would throb with pleasure's purest ecstacy, while my wayward fancy would hover

around your pillow where all my hopes, my happiness & love lay in the sweet embrace of






20 Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political and Intellectual Leadership in North
Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin, Publisher, 1961), pp. 79; Robert C.
Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange County. North
Carolina. 1849-1881 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1987), pp. 14, 42-
44, 200; Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics & Behavior in the Old South
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 206, 209, 273-75; Jane Turner Censer,
North Carolina Planters and Their Children, 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1984), pp. 68-79; Brent H. Holcomb, compiler, Marriages of Orange
County North Carolina (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983), p. 200.

21 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:19.







50

sleep."22 Her image invaded his dreams. Recounting what he called "the sweetest love

dream that I have had in years," he described how he and Charity "opened a courtship"

in a carefully manicured garden. The vision climaxed with Willie pulling Charity into his

embrace and kissing her "over & over again.""23 Willie featured prominently in Charity's

dreams as well, but the details of her subconscious were not committed to paper.24 The

sting of cupid's arrow infused Mangum with a renewed appreciation of outdoor scenes like

the garden he visited in his dream. "Nature seems to have delighted in the grand &

magnificent," he wrote during a visit to the mountainous western part of the state, "when

she was piling in such whimsical combinations the vast allighenies [sic]."25 At times his

letters lacked their typical panache. After telling Charity of his desire to hold her in his

arms, he asked bluntly, "are you growing fat?," possibly a reference to her pregnancy.26

Charity's responses, also marked by passion, carried more restraint. She wrote

mournfully, telling of her loneliness and expressing concern for Willie's safety. "I cannot

bear to think of the distance that we are from each other perhaps never to meet again

should you be taken from me in the prime of life," went one such lament.27 Part of her


22 Ibid., 1:24.

23 Ibid., 1:539.

2 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 21 December 1823, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

25 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:22.

26 Ibid., 1:487.

27 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 24 August 1820, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.







51

pain came from the knowledge that her husband was unhappy riding the circuits. In

August 1820, she referred to his "disagreeable circuit," and prayed for his safe and speedy

return.28 Her compassion touched Mangum and called to mind the scene of their most

recent parting. "At this very moment," he wrote, "my fancy draws with painful accuracy

your very look & countenance at the instant I left you and my heart almost melts at the

picture." The bitter image of her "eyes swimming in tears" haunted him, but he took

comfort in her promise to remain strong and await his return.29

While the passage of time did not extinguish their passions, it did bring a change.

Their letters retained characteristic expressions of longing, but the pain of separation

seemed less acute. Habitually late with his correspondence, Willie often opened letters

with an apology. He assured Charity that his failure to write did not mean that his ardor

had cooled. "You are never to suppose for a moment," he wrote after one particularly

long silence, "that I neglect to write...because I do not feel all [of] the affection & love

that I had in our younger & happy days. "3 It seems Charity also found less time to write,

for Willie frequently inquired as to the whereabouts of long-promised letters. In 1841, at

the age of 49, Willie Mangum continued to speak with the voice of a young man in love.

"I desire to see you very much," he wrote from his from his rooming house in

Washington, D.C., adding, "I love you very much, and never know how much I love you



28 Ibid.

29 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:28-29.

30 Ibid., 3:299.







52

... until I leave you."31 Unlike the notes written years before, this one combines the

musings of the romantic with the self-confidence of a middle-aged man happy in a mature

relationship with his wife. Shorter and more direct, his letters now featured as many

references to the weather, his health, his children, and his plantation, as they did to matters

of the heart. Similarly. Charity's letters included less pining and more talk of her children

and the plantation. Like her husband, she continued to profess her love and complain

about the long separations, but not with the pathos of previous years. Responding to her

cousin's assertion that Mangum would make a good president, she joked that he "would

not get [her] vote" because it would mean even longer hours and less time together.3

For much of their married life, Willie and Charity lived apart. Willie's law

practice and long tenure in public service kept him away from the family plantation for

months at a time. Charity's fear of steamboats may have been one reason for her

reluctance to accompany her husband on his travels. Her duties at home presented a

second, more practical justification. In her husband's absence, Charity assumed the task

of administering the estate. With occasional help from her father, her brother William,

and her two brothers-in-law, she looked after day-to-day operations of their 1,600 acre

farm. Charity relayed her husband's instructions to his overseers and supervised the

construction of their new house. When it came time to ship goods to market, she alerted

her husband and asked for instructions as to what quantities were to be sold and what were


31 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 3:176; see also, ibid., 1:225;
3:322-323.

32 Ibid., 3:190.







53

to be used for private consumption. She also settled debts and purchased farming tools in

her husband's stead. Business communiques between the two suggest that Willie Mangum

considered his wife a trustworthy plantation mistress. Their companionate marriage also

proved to be a useful business arrangement. The respect he granted her on matters of

finance, however, did not extend to the realm of ideas. The recipient of a formal academy

education, Charity's letters show her to be an intelligent woman capable of managing a

business and raising a family. Be that as it may, her new husband thought that some

topics, politics for example, were too complex for women and so made only passing

references to the subject in his letters. He would later contradict himself, however, by

insisting that his adult daughters read newspapers and keep abreast of current affairs.

Doubtless this change in outlook came about as a result of the examples set by Charity and

his three daughters.3

Private obligations did not interfere with Mangum's public commitments. As a

county road supervisor, the pragmatic Mangum initiated construction of a three-quarter

mile long spur that connected his homestead to an existing thoroughfare. This selfish

allocation of public funds apparently went unchecked, for his popularity in Orange

continued unabated. In April 1818, he predicted that he would defeat his opponent in his


33 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 21 December 1823, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum, 1:225, 229; 2:18; 4:7-8; 5:759; Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, p. 214; Censer,
North Carolina Planters and Their Children, p. 72; For more on southern women and
plantation management see, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household:
Black and White Women in the Old South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina
Press, 1988) and Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress: Women's World in the Old
South (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982).







54

next run for Commons. Brimming with confidence, he added that it was only a matter of

time before the people of the Eighth District elected him their representative to the United

States Congress. He confessed to Priestly that he was frightened by his ambition. Public

approval had filled him with a dangerous sense of pride, and only "sound judgement"

prevented him from grasping for the "dangerous diadem flitted before my vision &

ambition."34 The sin of pride was very real to his generation and any appearance of

arrogance could hurt his career. Mangum faced the dilemma of seeking public office

without seeming too eager to win. His reelection to the House of Commons in August of

1819 proved that he kept his desires well hidden.35

In November 1819, Mangum returned to Raleigh to begin his second term in the

House of Commons. Joined by his mentor, Duncan Cameron, then serving Orange

County as a state senator, the seasoned Mangum took a more active role in the Assembly.

He displayed his new-found poise early in the proceedings by motioning for a minor

procedural change. This maneuver would be the first of many that marked Mangum a

crafty parliamentarian. Much of his later success was predicated on his special ability to








34 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:15; see also, ibid., 5:749-
750.

35 Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, pp.72-73; John L. Cheney,
Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585-1974: A Narrative and Statistical History
(Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975), p. 275; Raleigh
Register, 20 August 1819.







55

turn the rules governing debate and procedure to his own advantage. In the national

legislature this skill would help elevate him to the highest post in the Senate.36

Following Cameron's lead in the Senate, Mangum presented a series of resolutions

calling for a constitutional convention. Submitted December 1, 1819, his plan outlined

the terms by which freeholders would elect delegates and the issues these officials would

debate. As with earlier drives for reform, this one reflected the power struggle between

eastern and western legislators and centered on the issue of representation. Mangum

proposed that "the representation of the people in the General Assembly shall be equal and

comfortable to the principles of republican government." In other words, population

should be the standard of representation.37 Additional proposals included the popular

election of the Governor and local sheriffs, provisions for the removal of inept or corrupt

Supreme and Superior Court Judges, and biennial, rather than annual meetings of the

General Assembly. Mangum's planned alterations to the state constitution reiterated a

mistrust of centralized power, first revealed in his anti-bank philippics of the previous

year. With these reforms he sought to limit the power of the state by making it more

responsive to the public will. Again, this attempt to rewrite the constitution suffered

defeat at the hands of conservative eastern lawmakers.38



36 Raleigh Register, 26 November 1819.

7 Quote from North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons
(Raleigh: State Printer, 1819), p. 39; See also, Raleigh Register 26 November; 3
December 1819.

38 McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 97-98; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Journal of the House of Commons (1819), pp. 38-40; Raleigh Register, 10 December







56

The rift between east and west also featured prominently in the debate over an

internal improvements bill. Unlike previous battles, the opposition failed to maintain a

united front and the legislation passed by a vote of 72 to 54. Designed to diversify the

state's stagnant economy, the bill established a board of oversight charged with distributing

funds for internal improvement projects. Mangum, a proponent of economic diversity.

voted for the measure. He shared the sentiments of like-minded southerners who wanted

to wean the region from its dependence on plantation agriculture. Their only salvation,

he believed, was a modern transportation infrastructure built, in part, with state, not

federal, money. Mangum did not share the agrarian idealism of his opponents. How he

planned to finance these ambitious plans without the aid of lending institutions and without

expanding the power of the state remained to be seen. The young assemblyman was too

concerned with practical matters to perfect a consistent political philosophy.39

Mangum soon tired of life in the capital. Shortly after his return there, he

complained to his new wife that "Raleigh is as dull & uninteresting to me as the squeaking

of a scotchman's bagpipes." The carefree bachelor of a year before was now a lovesick

newlywed. He looked with amazement at the changes he experienced since the previous

winter. "At that time I plunged into the vortex of fashionable dissipation," he recalled,

as time "sped away on swiftest wing." Now he described his company as "vapid." He


1819.

39 Harry L. Watson, "Squire Oldway and his Friends: Opposition to Internal
Improvements in Antebellum North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 54
(1977):119; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p. 96; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Journal of the House of Commons (1819), p. 82.







57

whiled away his free hours, which seemed endless, alone in his bedchamber reading "tales

of fiction." Official business offered little relief. Frustrated by the inaction of the

legislature, Mangum seemed ready for a change.4 Fortunately, his colleagues rescued him

from the tedium. On December 22, 1819, the General Assembly elected Mangum a Judge

of the Superior Court of Law and Equity.4'

Mangum rose to the bench through the influence of Duncan Cameron. Initially,

the senator tried to land William Norwood in the post. Opposition from rival power-

broker John Stanly, who wished to see his relative George E. Badger win the honor,

produced a stalemate. Eventually, Cameron induced Mangum to be his compromise

candidate. In the General Assembly, the official records tell a simpler story. On

December 20, 1819, the Senate placed James J. McKay's name in nomination and the

House added Badger's to the slate. Apparently, Cameron dumped his first choice before

the Assembly took any official action. Two days later, the House submitted Mangum's

nomination and began balloting. After all three candidates failed to win a majority in the

first round, McKay withdrew his name and the voting recommended. Mangum won on

the second ballot. Cameron and Mangum's back-room deal caused a brief stir within the

opposition camp. Word of the episode did not reach the press, however, sparing both men








40 All quotes from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:19.

1 Raleigh Register, 24 December 1819.







58

potentially embarrassing allegations of cabalism or some other act popularly understood

to be incompatible with republican government.42

Established in 1777, the Superior Court of Law and Equity exercised jurisdiction

over both civil and criminal suits. Judges also discharged administrative duties that placed

a variety of patronage posts at their disposal. The original Act of 1777 created six

districts: subsequent addenda increased the number to eight and divided each into eastern

and western "ridings." Courts convened for six-day sessions, concluding on the final day

regardless of whether or not a trial was in progress. Even capital cases ended without a

verdict if a jury had not finished its deliberation within the allotted time. A shortage of

justices and the vast distances between courthouses necessitated such abrupt scheduling.

Barring misconduct, judges retained their posts for as long as they pleased.43

At the age of 27, Willie Mangum had been guaranteed lifetime tenure in a highly

respected profession. Unfortunately, he never enjoyed the job and contemplated resigning

almost from the start. His first assignment took him to the Sixth Judicial Circuit, a

territory encompassing hundreds of square miles in the mountainous counties of western

North Carolina. He found the region rich in breathtaking vistas but little else. "Rambling



42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:750; Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters
in the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical Papers. Published by the Trinity
College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University Press, 1925), p. 20; Weeks, "Willie
Person Mangum," 5:240; Raleigh Register, 24 December 1819; Hamilton, Party Politics
in North Carolina, p. 32; J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed., The Papers of Thomas Ruffin,
4 vols. (Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 1:234.

43 Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1937), pp. 622-25.






59

among the knolls" and the lush green hills encircling the village of Lincolnton, Mangum

relished a rare moment of serenity. "Spring is rapidly clothing in her rich & verdant robes

. the weather is soft & delightful."" Nothing, however, could alleviate his sense of

isolation. "My desire to get home disturbs the sweet serenity of the scene," he reported

from the isolated hamlet. To his relief, the people of that town displayed more refinement

and culture than the folks he had encountered in the backcountry. Unable to hide his

disdain, he described the latter as "a population as little congenial to my habits & tastes

as the wild savage." It seems he found the rugged beauty of the landscape more to his

liking than the men and women who made it their home.45

Mangum also suffered the ill effects of the cold, damp mountain climate.

Unspecified health problems plagued him throughout the term. Spring storms washed

away already treacherous roads, rendering many impassable. Unaccustomed to driving

in such conditions, Mangum often found himself lying face-down in the mud beside his

overturned gig. Surrendering to the elements, he gave up the comforts of his coach for

the safety of the saddle. Overwork compounded his aggravation. "My labors have been

most arduous," he complained, telling his wife that he had put in more hours in his four

months as a judge than he had during an entire year as an attorney.46 Mangum would not

allow exhaustion to affect his demeanor. Presiding from the bench he cut an impressive




44 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:22-24.

45 Ibid., 1:24.

6 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:24; See also, ibid., 5:570.







60

figure, exhibiting the same bearing that had won him esteem as a lawyer.47 All his hours

before a jury, however, could not prepare the young magistrate for the grim task of

deciding matters of life and death. "It is not within the scope of my powers of language

to describe my feelings on the first occasion that a man was tried before me for his life,"

he wrote shortly after handing down a decision in his first capital case. "I have just passed

through two trials of that awful character," he confided to his wife, "the first was so

critical that the weight of a hair would have saved or lost a life, & in that trying moment

I was compelled to decide." The overwhelming responsibility was almost too much for

the 27-year-old judge to bear: his depression was impossible to conceal.48

Reassignment failed to relieve Mangum's unhappiness. Late in the Summer of

1820 he was posted to the First Judicial Circuit in the northeastern part of the state.

Impressed as he was with the vastness of Albemarle Sound and the nearby canals, he could

not help but notice that the Edenton Circuit, as it was more commonly known, offered its

own special kind of annoyance: mosquito-infested swamps. Again, his letters home stress

a familiar litany of miseries; loneliness, illness, and discomfort. He painted an

unflattering picture of his new environment as "a country filled with swamps, flies

& musquitoes [sic]." "It is very unhealthy," he added, stating that he had lost nine pounds

since setting off on his journey. Inevitably, these conditions proved unbearable. In






47 Hillsborough Recorder, 11 September 1861.

48 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:21.







61

November 1820, less than a year after his appointment, Mangum stepped down from the

bench and returned home to Charity and his law practice.9

Privately, Mangum told those closest to him that his father's recent financial

setbacks had provided an additional incentive to relinquish his judgeship. Mangum's

ability to bail out his father was compromised, however, by his own pecuniary distress.

Falling commodity prices and marginal harvests eroded part of his estate. Risky

investments consumed even more. In 1819, Mangum, using receipts from his legal

practice, purchased land in Haywood, North Carolina, a town situated at the confluence

of the Deep, Haw, and Cape Fear Rivers. Initially, this venture turned a profit. Rumors

that the state capital would relocate in Haywood, proposed bridge and canal projects, and

long-promised improvements to the Cape Fear, stimulated land speculation in the area.

The promise of further rewards led him to form a partnership with Archibald Haralson.

The two purchased seven more lots in Haywood and part interest in a proposed toll bridge

that would span the Deep River. When Haralson defaulted on his share of the note, his

uncle, Archibald Murphey and Mangum assumed partial liability. Additional land

purchases in Hillsborough and the collapse of the Haywood land boom put Mangum deep

in debt. The ramifications of his bad investments would be felt through the end of the

decade: financial security would elude him for the rest of his life.50






49 Ibid., 1:30, 32-33.

50 Ibid., l:xxiii-xxiv, 11-14, 17-18, 37-40.







62

To satisfy his creditors, Mangum solicited loans from friends and family members.

His father-in-law William Cain became his most generous benefactor. The relationship

between the two men had gone through some profound changes since their first encounter.

Mangum used his position in Commons to promote Cain's views, encouraging him to visit

Raleigh before important votes. Always deferential, he insisted that Cain come at his own

convenience and not concern himself with Mangum's schedule. As a judge, Mangum

made a habit of visiting with his father-in-law before setting off on his circuit. Ties

between the two men grew stronger with the birth of Willie and Charity's first child.

William Cain hosted his granddaughter during extended visits to his home and looked in

on Charity while Mangum was away. On October 21, 1822, William gave his daughter

eight slaves. The added hands surely made life on the plantation easier for the Mangums

and improved their chances of generating revenue. Cain's tacit approval of Mangum's

decision to stake his financial recovery on farming was not shared by Mangum's brother.

Priestly objected to his brother's decision to remain a country lawyer and urged him to

move to Hillsborough. "If you continue where you are," he warned, "[you will] gradually

sink in the public estimation." The younger Mangum also felt that a residence in town

would help Willie's political career by assuring "a better chance for a participation in the

distributions of public favor." Mangum disregarded his brother's advice, choosing instead

to launch the next phase of his political career from his estate at Red Mountain.5"




51 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:44: See also, ibid., 1:xxiv,
19, 29, 43, 247, 337-38.












CHAPTER 3
THE PRESIDENTIAL QUESTION


On June 4, 1823, Willie Mangum announced his intention to run for a seat in the

United States House of Representatives in an election to be held that August. The race,

between Mangum and General Daniel L. Barringer, soon degenerated into personal

vilification, innuendo, and a narrowly averted duel. None of these features was alien to

the voters of the Eighth Congressional District. Historian Harry Watson argues that this

"predilection for gutter politics" served a higher purpose. Officeseekers, he insists, fell

to undignified tactics to preserve the higher principles of republicanism. Any

electioneering device was acceptable so long as it prevented unfit men from gaining control

of the state. According to Watson's paradigm, candidates temporarily set aside their own

virtue for the sake of the commonweal. The behavior of Willie Mangum and his cohorts

suggest different motives. To them, ideology was something to be exploited. Every

candidate, regardless of his factional affiliation or political viewpoint, invoked the same

rhetoric, rendering the republican ideology of an earlier era so elastic as to deprive it of

meaning. Instead of speaking to real concerns, candidates manipulated symbols and

language to arouse their followers and confound those loyal to their opponents. Editors

and printers participated in the game. Newspapers and broadsides functioned as







64

propaganda sheets, devoid of any purpose beyond electing their favorites and reaping the

benefits of power.'

Mangum's declaration of his candidacy caught Barringer off guard. The general

told supporters that Mangum had privately assured him that he would not be a candidate.

Mangum, in turn, denied the charge, insisting that he had personally communicated his

plans to the General. In either event, the two had made a silent accord that showed how

meaningless republican virtue -- as modern historians interpret it -- had become. Once

underway, the two began the business of campaigning. Convention prescribed that neither

man openly seek office, but like Cincinnatus, officeseekers were supposed to enter the fray

only because an alarmed citizenry demanded that they serve when the Republic was

thought endangered. Again, Mangum and Barringer ignored the dictates of custom, which

in fact had been eroding for some years. Whether in the guise of an apolitical meeting or

through surrogates, the two campaigned up to election day.2

Constitutional reform quickly emerged as the most divisive issue of the campaign.

On May 29, 1823, reform-minded leaders from Orange county met in Hillsborough to plot

their course. The rump selected Mangum and four others to serve as their delegation to

a statewide assembly scheduled to met in Raleigh that November. Speaking before a

friendly crowd, Mangum reconfirmed his commitment to modifying the document, linking


Hillsborough Recorder, 4 June 1823; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and
Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland County.
North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 77.

2 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 1:51-52.







65

constitutional revision to internal improvements. By accepting the nomination, Mangum

invited the disapproval of a considerable portion of the electorate. The Eighth District

straddled both pro- and anti-reform counties. While most voters in Orange and Person

counties advocated revision, a majority in Wake stood opposed. Realizing that this would

cost him support in Wake, Mangum attempted to counter Barringer's influence there by

painting him as a friend of reform. The General denied the allegation as the debate

degenerated into a series of charges and countercharges. Mangum verified his claims by

assembling corroborative statements from several of the district's leading citizens and

releasing them in a circular letter.3

The testimonials of local merchant Thomas Clancy, former assemblyman James

Mebane, and other highly-placed members of the community attested to the duplicity of

Mangum's opponent. Each admitted that Barringer had indeed voiced qualified support

for constitutional revision during recent visits to Hillsborough, the county seat of Orange.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the circular is what Mangum chose to exclude. In

the official release, Mangum stated that he and Barringer had agreed to curtail public

appearances, emerging from the comforts of domestic duty only to attend Sunday sermons,

visit relatives, or to run "errands of charity." "I was utterly astonished," he alleged in the

circular, "to understand that Gen. Barringer was, on Sunday the 3d instant, thirteen miles

from home, not attending to divine worship, but talking to the people on the subjects


3 Ibid., 1:51-57; Hillsborough Recorder, 11 June 1823.







66

of elections and amending the state constitution."4 To his friend Seth Jones, however,

Mangum admitted that this self-imposed exile from public functions applied to Sundays

as well. "I thought proper to omit that fact lest it might hurt the feelings of some

religious people."5 Mangum's candor offers a glimpse at the discrepancies between what

officials often said and how they actually behaved. It also calls into question the value of

newspapers, pamphlets, and speeches as barometers of the ideological commitment

professed by elite figures in early nineteenth century American politics. If both Barringer

and Mangum were willing to tailor their statements to public notions of proper conduct

vis-a-vis the church, what was to prevent them from doing so with regard to secular

ideologies and institutions? Whether uttered by politicians or published by equally partisan

editors, public pronouncements shrouded in the language of republicanism or any other

popular conviction must be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

Barringer responded to Mangum's assault with an equally caustic circular. Dated

August 9, 1823, it alleged that the affidavits included in his opponent's handbill had been

written by Mangum's allies. With the election only a few days off, Barringer said he had

no time to compile his own "certificates." Instead, his offered an "unbiased" account of

events that would show that "trick and stratagem" were "the most prominent features in

[Mangum's] character." He averred that the Judge intentionally altered his speeches so

that they would conform to the opinions of his listeners. In Wake County, for example,




4 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:61.

5 Ibid., 1:63-64.






67

Mangum was said to have spoken unenthusiastically about constitutional revision: in

Orange he expressed himself otherwise. Responding to Mangum's insinuations that he

championed the unpopular Bank of the United States, Barringer pointed to Mangum's long

association with its leading proponent, Duncan Cameron, as evidence of guilt by

association. As for the ban on electioneering, Barringer returned Mangum's charge of

duplicity. While in Raleigh, Barringer chanced upon Mangum's overseer as he delivered

campaign literature for his master, an obvious breach of their earlier pact.6 Whether

rooted in fact, fiction or both, the General's circular proved too little too late. The mid-

August elections gave Mangum a 794 vote majority over his rival.7

Questions surrounding the authorship of Barringer's "scurrilous handbill" continued

to surface long after the last votes had been tallied.8 In a series of letters written between

September 30 and October 17, 1823, Mangum and Henry Seawell, a local politician and

judge, exchanged allegations of slander and improper conduct in connection with the

circular. Only the intercession of their seconds averted a duel. The episode began when

Seawell reproached Mangum for publicly maligning his name when he accused him of

writing the document. Mangum admitted that he believed Seawell to be the author, but

denied having made any remark that could be interpreted as derogatory. However, he did

state that Seawell's participation in the matter came after he had pledged his neutrality in




6 Ibid., 1:65-69.

7 Raleigh Register, 22 August 1823.

8 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:70.







68

the election. Misunderstandings heightened their mutual animosity, as each man

stubbornly postured to appear the more aggrieved party. Eventually the two discontinued

direct communication and began speaking through intermediaries. Mangum even went so

far as to go to Raleigh in anticipation of a duel that never materialized. In the end, the

two settled their differences without resorting to violence. The incident showed Mangum's

political immaturity. The newly-elected Congressman risked public censure and personal

injury over a minor misunderstanding, one that could have been cleared up much sooner

had either man issued an unqualified apology. It also earned Mangum the enmity of an

important power broker. Later in life he learned to settle his disputes quickly, defusing

troublesome situations before they became unmanageable.9

Before taking his seat in the national legislature, Mangum went to Raleigh to attend

a constitutional convention. The extra-legal conference met at the urging of a caucus of

western legislators, who had scheduled the event during the previous session of the

General Assembly. Mangum arrived on November 11, 1823, the day after the conference

began. Montfort Stokes, the venerated Revolutionary War veteran, presided over the

proceedings and assigned Mangum, Bartlett Yancey, and five others to the Committee on

Amendments. As with earlier efforts to alter the charter, this one turned on the question

of representation. The relative absence of eastern obstructionists did not ease the process.

The slaveholders in the central piedmont region found themselves at odds with the non-

slaveholding yeomen who dominated the western delegation. While the entire body agreed


9 Ibid., 1:70-79.







69

that population should be the basis of representation, piedmont delegates favored counting

slaves as three-fifths of a person when calculating population figures. Westerners argued

that only free whites should be counted. Mangum spoke in favor of the latter position and

also moved to reduce property qualifications for office holders. Piedmont representatives

emerged the victors, but in the process had created ruinous divisions within the reform

movement. After five days of meetings, the convention put together a list of proposals

drawn up by Bartlett Yancey and presented them to the incoming legislative assembly.10

The new General Assembly quietly tabled the plan submitted by the convention.

Twelve years passed before advocates succeeded in revising the constitution. Mangum

would not have to wait as long for his rewards. His actions at the assembly once again

caught the attention of the press, which came to regard him as the chief spokesman for

western interests. His motives were both noble and selfish. Clearly, the causes of

democracy and representative government would have been better served by his initiatives.

Equally true, however, is the fact that by expanding the power of the west he augmented

his own reputation and power. The correlation between one's geographic power base and

their support for constitutional revision was hardly a random coincidence. Western leaders

like Mangum pledged themselves to lofty principles when speaking about revision, but

knew very well the practical consequences of their mission."


"o Raleigh Register, 14, 21 November 1823; William Omer Foster, "The Career of
Montfort Stokes in North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 16 (1939): 253-
254; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North Carolina,
1815-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 148-150.

Foster, "Montfort Stokes," pp. 255-256; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p 151.







70

On the morning of November 26, 1823, Mangum boarded a stagecoach bound for

the nation's capital. Shortly after he arrived he took the oath of office and began his

inaugural term in the United States House of Representatives.12 His first impression of

official Washington was one that would stay with him for life. "So little of principle

enters into the context of ambitious men for power," he wrote to his friend and mentor

Duncan Cameron.13 On December 10, 1823, Mangum relayed to Cameron news that "the

Presidential question is here a topic of frequent, I might almost say, constant

conversation."14 With less than a year to go before the next presidential election, Congress

buzzed with rumors as the leading contenders jockeyed for the first office. The official

business of the congress, he believed, was subordinated to the unending struggle for

power. Mangum saw little of the party spirit and devotion to ideals that he believed

guided the founders of the republic. In their place stood ambitious men leading personal

factions. The events of his first month in office were not all disenchanting. Surrounded

by the greatest orators of his generation, Mangum made special note of the talents of

Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. He wrote admiringly of the Kentuckian's "superior

qualifications and transcendent abilities," and thought that maybe his ascension indicated

that merit would determine who led in the post-partisan age."



2 Willie P. Mangum to Phillips Moore, 26 November 1823, Stephen Moore Papers,
Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham North Carolina.

13 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:84.

4 Ibid., 1:83.

15 Quote from, ibid., 1:82; See also, ibid., 1:109.







71

Listed as a Federalist in the official records, Mangum was in reality as

uncommitted to old party lines as the men he had disparaged in his letter to Cameron.'6

As a conservative dedicated to protecting the rights of the states against what he saw as the

encroaching power of the federal government, Mangum looked to fellow North Carolinian

Nathaniel Macon as a natural ally. The aging senator proved a useful friend to the

newcomer. Hailing from the eastern part of the state, Macon embodied conservatism and

old republican ideals like no other man in North Carolina. He mistrusted banks, credit,

and paper currency. A strict constructionist, he vehemently opposed federally funded

internal improvements and articulated his resistance as part of a defense of slavery. "If

Congress can make canals," he reasoned, "they can with more propriety emancipate."'7

Although Mangum never phrased his objections with such dexterity, he agreed that

responsibility for internal improvements should be left to the individual states. Amiable

and outgoing, Mangum also developed a friendship with nationalist John C. Calhoun of


16 John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585-1974: A Narrative and
Statistical History (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975),
pp. 675-76.

17 Quoted in Harry L. Watson, "Squire Oldway and his Friends: Opposition to Internal
Improvements in Antebellum North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 54
(1977):107; See also, ibid., p. 116; Robert E. Shalhope, "Thomas Jefferson's
Republicanism and Antebellum Southern Thought," Journal of Southern History 42
(1976):548; Harold J. Counihan, "The North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835:
A Study in Jacksonian Democracy," North Carolina Historical Review 46 (1969):358;
Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861,
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), p. 42; Elizabeth S. Hoyt, "Reactions in
North Carolina to Jackson's Banking Policy, 1829-1832," North Carolina Historical
Review 25 (1948):172; Max R.Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North
Carolina: A Synthesis and a Modest Proposal," North Carolina Historical Review 47
(1970):115; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:305.







72

South Carolina. The ideological spectrum represented by Mangum's companions shows

his willingness look beyond political differences in his private affairs, a tendency that

stayed with him all his life and proved useful in furthering his political objectives."

When not distracted by the impending presidential contest, members of the first

session of the Eighteenth Congress occupied the majority of their time with internal

improvements legislation and a new tariff. Early in 1824 Congress debated a measure that

would grant the Army Corps of Engineers authority to survey roads and canals for military

use or as postal routes. Mangum viewed the proposal as part of a scheme to expand the

power of the federal government at the expense of constitutional literalism. As he saw it,

the "ultra republicans," led by his friend Calhoun, had drawn up their plan with the full

blessing of President James Monroe. "The new school has taken the principles of the old

Federalists," Mangum worried, "but press their principles much further I mean on the

subjects of internal improvements, etc., and especially in a latitudinous construction of the

constitution generally." The nationalism of the old Federalist Party had been appropriated

by men who called themselves Republicans. Strict construction, once the centerpiece of

Jeffersonian ideology, had been laid to rest. Mangum refused to accept this new

orthodoxy. On February 10, 1824, after nearly a month of discussion, he cast his vote

with the minority against the bill."9





18 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, p. 1:xx, 109.

19 Quotes from, ibid., 1:109; See also, United States Congress, Annals of the Congress
of the United States, 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 1399, 1468-69.







73

Mangum's opposition to the Tariff of 1824 demonstrated his practical commitment

to southern economic development. Unlike his attack against internal improvements, he

phrased his objections to high import duties in economic and sectional terms, rather than

in constitutional terms. First submitted on January 9, 1824, the new tariff was conceived

as the keystone of Henry Clay's American System. The initial proposal enumerated a long

list of finished products subject to the levy. With ad valorem rates as high as 25 to 35

percent on certain raw materials -- wool, cotton, silk, hemp, and flax, for example --

southern lawmakers like Mangum complained of being trapped in a system that placed

their region in a state of dependency. Forced to sell their cotton in an open market and

to purchase Northern goods in a closed market, they denounced northern capitalists who

colluded with the federal government to impose their repressive system. Mangum and

others understood the necessity of generating revenue, but failed to see the wisdom of

protecting domestic manufacturing if it meant higher prices for southern consumers and

lower profits for southern planters.? In one of his few recorded statements of the session,

Mangum mildly rebuked the tariff, "professing his general objections to the bill" on the

floor of the House.21 To his friend Seth Jones he offered a more colorful protest. "The

Yankees will make the Southerners hewers of wood and drawers of water for them," he

cautioned, adding with resignation that the lines had already been drawn, the North "will




20 Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1991), pp. 228-29; Annals of the Congress, 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 959-
64.


21 Annals of the Congress, 18th Cong., 1st. sess., p. 1627.







74

be converted into a great workshop & the slave holding states will be compelled to pay

them tribute. "22

On April 16, 1824, the House passed the new tariff, which retained its most

important protectionist features. Mangum joined the rest of the southerner delegation and

voted against the final version. However, alterations to the original draft quieted some of

Mangum's initial anxieties.23 The day before President Monroe signed the bill into law,

Mangum confided to Jones, "the bill as passed is not exceedingly objectionable, instead

of being a law for the protection of Domestic Manufacturers, it is a revenue bill It was

gutted in the Senate."24 He was wrong. The Tariff of 1824 was a protective tariff, with

duties on most raw materials remaining as high as when first proposed.2

Little of what Mangum said or did during his first term in Washington was

captured in the official records. Except for an occasional vote or brief remark, Mangum

was a silent participant. His forte was watching and listening to those around him as they

went about the business of governing. An eager student of power politics, Mangum

learned that one of the first responsibilities of a new congressman was to bolster the good

will of those who had sent him to Washington. Patronage seemed the most direct way to

achieve that end; favorable relations with the press back at home was another. Sometimes



22 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:116.

3 Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., p. 2675, appendix, pp. 3221-3228;
Remini, Henry Clay, pp. 232.

24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:146.

25 Remini, Henry Clay, p. 233.







75

he found he could combine the two tactics by establishing postal routes in his district that

would be used to carry newspapers to more people. On December 15, 1823, Mangum

reminded Thomas D. Bennehan, the brother-in-law of Duncan Cameron, of an already

agreed upon plan to establish a 48 mile postal route extending from Raleigh to Roxborough

via Fish Dam and Staggville. Mangum urged his friend to start a petition drive in support

of the "Fish Dam" road so that he could present the idea to the House. In January,

Mangum's neighbor and kinsman, John J. Carrington, described the project in politically

expedient language. A new route, he implied, might extend the reach of Mangum's

influence into the remote parts of Wake and Person Counties. Voters there would gain

access to pro-Mangum literature. That February Mangum submitted to the House a

proposed postal route that covered the same ground suggested in his letter to Bennehan.26

Residents of the Eighth Congressional District, like most people in North Carolina,

obtained the bulk of their political information from broadsides and pamphlets. Ordinarily

printed on a single sheet of paper, they were often reproduced in newspapers or distributed

through the mail or by hand. Evidently, Mangum did not use his franking privileges to

deliver this material when he first came to Washington. Later, after he had mastered the

finer points of political management and organization, he used the entitlement regularly.

Newspapers carried little information of local interest. Usually published weekly,

periodicals tended to ignore the events taking place in their immediate vicinity, preferring



26 Annals of the Congress, 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 798, 1627, 2654, 2659-60;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:88-89, 104-105; Raleigh Register, 20
February 1824.







76

instead to print fiction, poetry, and national news.27 An avid newspaper reader himself,

Mangum regarded the local weekly as an excellent source of intelligence. Accordingly,

he made common cause with newspaper publisher Dennis Heartt shortly before he took his

seat in Congress. Keeping with common practice, Mangum volunteered to serve as an

unofficial correspondent to Heartt's Hillsborough Recorder. On January 31, 1824, Heartt

recalled to Mangum, "You must not forget your promise to furnish me with scraps of

information as may fall within your observation."28 Despite their differences over the

coming presidential election -- Mangum supported William H. Crawford, Heartt preferred

John Quincy Adams -- the two got along well. In time Mangum and Heartt would see eye-

to-eye on the major political issues of the day, as Heartt became one of Mangum's most

trusted and valued allies. Priestly Mangum later captured the spirit of the relationship

when he jokingly referred to Heartt as "your little Irishman" in a letter to his brother. The

use of the diminutive indicates personal intimacy while the possessive suggests a degree

of influence.29

The presidential election of 1824 supplied Mangum with enough "scraps of

information" to satisfy his publisher friend or anyone else who cared to listen. The

congressman became a conduit for his friends and associates in North Carolina, feeding




27 John Chalmers Vinson, "Electioneering in North Carolina, 1800-1835," North
Carolina Historical Review 29 (1952): 175-76.

28 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:112.

29 Ibid, 1:164; Albert R. Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824 in North
Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), pp. 59, 143.







77

them details and offering his own observations and insights. His correspondence during

these first months revealed that presidential politics had a profound effect on elected

officials. Since his arrival in December ,hey seemed to talk of little else. The

machinations of Mangum and his colleagues also expose the undemocratic nature of the

nominating process. Power brokers in Washington fought each other for months to win

the right to name a successor to the incumbent president. Four of the five hopefuls

mentioned in Mangum's first letters remained before the public through the November

election. Public men presented the voters with a slate of candidates drawn from an elite

pool. Lower echelon figures like Mangum conveyed the will of the caucuses, the factions,

and the various state machines to the leaders in their respective home states and together

they labored to lend the process an air of democracy.

Mangum came to Washington pledged to support Secretary of the Treasury William

H. Crawford of Georgia for the presidency. The contest had been an issue in his race with

Barringer, and Mangum stood firmly behind the Georgian throughout. Of the five

candidates who remained in the running in December 1823, Mangum believed that only

Crawford possessed the states rights credentials essential to winning a majority of North

Carolina voters. He perceived the other four -- Clay, Calhoun, Adams, and Andrew

Jackson -- as nationalists. In Raleigh the Crawfordites secured their control of the General

Assembly with the reelection of Bartlett Yancey to the post of Speaker of the Senate. In

Commons, Robert Strange, another member of the pro-Crawford faction, completed the

coup with his election to the head of that body. On December 2, 1823, the organization

flexed its muscle by awarding Joseph Gales & Son, publishers of the Raleigh Register, the







78

state's leading pro-Crawford organ, the lucrative public printing contract. Nathaniel

Macon led the pro-Crawford Tar Heels in Washington. Strict constructionists and

proponents of thrifty government from across North Carolina rallied behind the Georgian

to become the dominant faction in the state. On December 24, 1823, their elected

representatives held a caucus in the senate chamber and nominated Crawford for the

presidency. Before adjourning, they named a seven-member committee of correspondence

and began organizing their campaign.30

William Harris Crawford had been a front-runner in the race to succeed Monroe

since about 1820. In 1816 he had polled a close second to the eventual nominee at that

year's Congressional caucus. As Monroe's Secretary of the Treasury he commanded vast

reserves of patronage. He used this prerogative to build a loyal following of officeholders

and political appointees. Among the populace, however, his appeal was confined to the

South and New York State. Especially popular with the older states rights Jeffersonians,

the fifty-one year old Crawford opposed protective tariffs and federally funded internal

improvements. Among the heirs to Federalism in North Carolina, Mangum was unique




30 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:101, 105; McFarland, "Rip Van
Winkle," pp. 143-45; William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1958), p. 3; James F. Hopkins,
"Election of 1824," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P. Hansen,
eds., History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968, 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea
House Publishers, 1971), 1:374; Richard P. McCormick, The Second Party System: Party
Formation in the Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966),
pp. 202-03; Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824, p. 62, 102-03; Thomas E.
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861 (Athens: The
University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 21.







79

in his support for Crawford.31 Of all the candidates, Mangum thought Crawford a

"sounder constitutionalist" than his opponents, one who promised an administration

"marked with economy & .. rigid accountability."32

Handicapped by reports of failing health, his association with the unpopular

congressional caucus, and the uninspired choice of Albert Gallatin as a running mate,

Crawford faced an uphill battle in North Carolina. The rise of Andrew Jackson provided

a fatal blow to the state's already moribund Crawford movement. Throughout the

campaign, Mangum struggled to preserve the Crawford coalition. In September 1823,

the Georgian suffered a debilitating stroke, leaving him partially blind and bedridden. The

candidate's health disheartened his followers, but they still refused to disclose the full

extent of his illness to the public.33 At first Mangum conveyed a sense of pessimism about

Crawford's condition. He "is very ill," Mangum wrote in December, "[and] tho [sic] his

physicians pronounce him out of danger, yet many entertain doubts of his recovery."34

One month later he evidenced more optimism. While still very sick and sequestered in a

darkened room with his eyes bandaged, Crawford's convalescence was proving beneficial.



31 Richard P. McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American
Presidential Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 124; McFarland,
"Rip Van Winkle," p. 140; Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:351-52, 359, 367; Wagstaff,
State Rights and Political Parties, p. 45; James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists.
1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), 191-92.

32 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:116.

33 Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824, pp. 106-07; Hopkins, "Election of
1824," 1:367.

34 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:89.







80

Despite Mangum's repeated assurances that he was on the mend, the candidates's health

remained an issue. As the others entertained their supporters at lavish dinner parties and

elegant balls, Crawford remained conspicuously absent from the affairs that marked an

election year.3

Mangum also had to refute rumors circulating about his own loyalties. Apparently,

his abundantly-detailed accounts of affairs in Congress had left some of his friends

wondering whom he supported. On January 12, 1824, John Carrington wrote Mangum,

"You said a good deal about the Presidential Election and I thought you appeared

something wandering and did not know well which side to take. "36 Less wary, Seth Jones

inquired, "I should like (as your friend) to know if you have changed your mind & if so

your reasons, & who you are for now."37 Mangum reacted quickly and without

equivocation. "I have only to say," he responded, "that [the rumors are] wholly without

foundation." As if to further placate their suspicions, Mangum added that he had never

been more certain that "the best interests of this country require the elevation of Mr.

Crawford to the presidential chair. "38 The source of these rumors remains unknown. The

fact that they surfaced shortly before a pro-Crawford congressional caucus was scheduled

to meet in Washington may provide a clue as to why they started.




3 Ibid., 1:109, 115.

36 Ibid., 1:105.

7 Ibid., 1:101.

38 Ibid., 1:115.






81

An avowed opponent of caucuses, Mangum had made it clear that he would not

attend the February 14 assemblage. Dismissed as relics of a bygone era, congressional

caucuses as nominating bodies had come under attack in recent years. A public informed

by antiparty ideals would no longer tolerate closed-door, elite-dominated mechanisms like

the caucus. Three state legislatures expressed formal disapproval of the caucus: Five states

sent only one representative to the gathering, and ten refused to take any part at all. Six

of the fifteen members of the North Carolina delegation in Washington, including Senators

John Branch and Nathaniel Macon, declined participation. Aware that Crawford's men

controlled the meeting from the onset, his opponents tried to prevent the event from taking

place. Failing that, supporters of Jackson, Adams, and Clay, chose to boycott the caucus.

On February 14, 1824, sixty-eight delegates assembled to select their nominee.

Confronting only token opposition, the Crawford forces easily won the day. The session

named Albert Gallatin to the second spot and dissolved without a platform.39

Mangum played to popular prejudices with his condemnation of the caucus.

Although committed to the candidate endorsed by the caucus and working with some of

the most well-organized factions in the country, he continued to portray himself as an

antiparty populist. The image pleased a large segment of his constituency. To William



39 The final vote of the caucus delegates went as follows, William Crawford, 64; John
Quincy Adams, 2; Andrew Jackson, 1; Nathaniel Macon, 1; Raleigh Register, 27
February 1824; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:115-16; Richard Hofstadter,
The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States. 1780-
1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), p. 252; Hopkins, "Election of
1824," 1:360, 368-70, 374; Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824, p. 82;
McCormick, The Presidential Game, pp. 5, 118-19, 133.







82

Haywood the caucus was nothing less than a "breach in our constitution. "' John F.

Brevard of Lincoln County, North Carolina, informed Mangum that "the public [sic]

sentiment [regarding the caucus] is universally reprebate [sic]." His state, he

continued, was free from "that spirit of organised [sic] faction which exhibits itself so

thoroughly in the state of New York, & in Virginia."41 In fact, Mangum and his partners

in the pro-Crawford faction in North Carolina worked closely with Martin Van Buren and

William Marcy, two members of New York's powerful Albany Regency.42 On March 6,

1824, the Carolina Sentinel commended Mangum and the five other North Carolinians

"who refused to misrepresent the sentiments of their constituents, or to give countenance

to dictation and intrigue, by attending the Radical caucus at Washington."43 While he

warmly supported William Crawford, Mangum was not entirely happy with the outcome

of the caucus. He thought Albert Gallatin a poor choice for the second spot. The Swiss-

born, former Secretary of the Treasury, Mangum told Romulus Saunders, would not run

well in North Carolina. Gallatin himself agreed and in September withdrew from the

ticket.4





40 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:137.

41 Ibid., 1:123.

42 Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System, p. 252.

43 Carolina Sentinel (New Bern), 6 March 1824.

44 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed., The Papers of Thomas Ruffin, 4 vols. (Raleigh:
Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 1:296; Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:370.







83

Before Andrew Jackson emerged as a major contender, John C. Calhoun had been

Crawford's strongest challenger for the hearts and minds of North Carolina. In addition

to the five above named individuals, the original cast of presidential aspirants included

DeWitt Clinton of New York and William Lowndes of South Carolina. In October 1823

Lowndes died, leaving South Carolina with only one favorite son.45 As a backer of

Crawford, Mangum worried little about the threat posed by Calhoun. "Mr. Calhoun

cannot get more than [South] Carolina & New Jersey unless his prospects shall materially

change," he predicted. "Even if he should get [North Carolina], which I cannot for a

moment believe, still the vote would be thrown away."46 Mangum's main objection to

both Calhoun and Henry Clay was their nationalism. He imagined with dread the

extravagance both would bring to the Oval Office. "I have felt alarm," he wrote, "at the

splendor & profuse policy that I think would characterize the administration of either Clay

or Calhoun."47 Most North Carolinians shared Mangum's suspicion of Calhoun and his

costly programs.4

Clay's spendthrift nationalism was not the only thing Mangum found objectionable

about the Kentuckian. As Speaker of the House, Clay had recast the office into one of






45 Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:350-51, 361-363.

46 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:116.

47 Ibid.

4 Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824, p. 129.







84

unrivaled power.49 Such a concentration of authority struck Mangum as anathema to

democracy. He thought Clay would use his considerable influence to affect the outcome

of the next presidential contest. If the November election concluded without one candidate

garnering a majority of the electoral votes then the House of Representatives would choose

a new president from one of the three top vote-getters. As the election drew nearer

Mangum began to see this turn of events as a distinct possibility. On February 11, 1824,

he wrote "unless the caucus shall produce considerable effect I am satisfied that an election

cannot be made by the people and will ultimately come to the House of Representatives."

After summarizing the regional strengths of each of the leading candidates, Mangum

added, "if Mr. Clay gets into the H. of R. the American people need not be surprised if

he is made president." His state-by-state analysis provides evidence that Mangum had

become an astute observer of political trends around the nation. The accuracy of his early

prognostication, however, was compromised by the withdrawal of John Calhoun later that

Spring.so

So much of Calhoun's political fortunes hinged on his ability to win votes outside

the South. He hoped to gain much needed support in the heavily-populated middle

Atlantic states, notably Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His backers there assured him that

they could deliver the votes. All hope evaporated in March 1824 when the Pennsylvania


49 George B. Galloway, History of the House of Representatives, 2nd. edition, revised
by Sidney Wise (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976), p. 11l; Steven S.
Smith and Christopher J. Deering, Committees in Congress (Washington, D.C.:
Congressional Quarterly Press, 1984), pp. 14-15.

50 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:116.







85

state convention nominated Andrew Jackson for the presidency with only one dissenting

vote. Sensing his declining fortunes, Calhoun decided to throw his considerable weight

behind the candidacy of the General. The new alliance immediately became a force in

North Carolina, where Calhoun now moved from the first to the second spot on what his

supporters there had labeled "the Peoples Ticket." The real contest in North Carolina

featured Jackson against Crawford, for neither Clay nor Secretary of State John Quincy

Adams, the other two remaining contestants, appealed to the states rights conservatives

who dominated the Old North State.5"

Crawford and Jackson's personal animosity toward one another gave the campaign

an added dimension. In an election centered on personalities rather than issues, problems

of political economy were superceded by differences of character. William Crawford

challenged the legality of the General's incursions into Spanish Florida and renounced as

unjust the treaties he had negotiated with native American tribes in the Southeast.52

Mangum never mentioned any of Jackson's indiscretions when he spoke of the General.

His silence possibly grew from his unwillingness to alienate the growing legion of

Jacksonians in North Carolina. In April 1824, word of Jackson's popularity back home

crossed Mangum's desk in Washington. Priestly informed his brother of Jackson's appeal

with folks in the western part of the state who sang his praises at every public event.



51 Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:366-67, 374; Newsome, The Presidential Election
of 1824, pp. 83-85, 100-01.

52 McCormick, The Presidential Game, p. 5; Charles Grier Sellers, Jr., "Jackson Men
With Feet of Clay," American Historical Review 62 (1957):538.







86

William H. Haywood told a similar tale. On April 17, he declared, "I am fully satisfied

that without a great revolution in the public sentiment of this state that Genl. Jackson will

be the favorite for the next presidency."53 For his part, Mangum voiced qualified approval

for the hero of New Orleans. "Gen. Jackson with all my objections to him," he wrote

half-heartedly, "I should prefer to Mr. Calhoun."54

Jackson's reputation was not the only one stained by an unscrupulous opposition.

In a campaign rife with dirty tricks, every candidate fell prey to unsubstantiated rumors

leveled by unnamed individuals using dubious evidence. Congressman Jonathan Russell

of Massachusetts, for example, falsified letters in an attempt to discredit John Quincy

Adams with voters in the western states. Only the intervention of President Monroe, who

confirmed that the documents in question had been altered, silenced reports that the

Secretary of State had been willing to grant Great Britain unlimited navigation rights along

the Mississippi River as part of the Treaty of Ghent. In January 1823, a pro-Calhoun

newspaper based in Washington, D.C. printed the first in a series of letters implicating

Crawford in a minor scandal. Writing under the alias "A.B.," Illinois Senator Ninian

Edwards claimed that the Secretary had misused government funds during the Panic of

1819 and later withheld information from Congress in order to conceal his complicity in







53 Quote from, Shanks, The Papers of Willie P Mangum, 1:137; See also, ibid., 1:134,
139.


54 Ibid., 1:116.







87

the affair." In a scene rarely witnessed on the floor of the House, the normally taciturn

Mangum spoke out in defense of the Secretary. He called for an inquiry, proclaiming

Crawford's innocence all the while. Late in May 1824, a special investigative committee

vindicated the young congressman when it exonerated Crawford.56 Events had left

Mangum disenchanted and jaded. Reflecting on the episode in a letter to his friend Seth

Jones, he wrote "Crawford has to contend against the most powerful combination & I fear

as unprincipled as powerful." Still hopeful, however, he closed with his oft repeated

prediction that Crawford would win in November. As for Ninian Edwards, the erstwhile

Judge seemed to concur with his friend John Randolph, who said that the perjurer should

have his ears lopped off.57

The Ninian Edwards affair prolonged an already drawn out session and delayed

Mangum's return to Red Mountain. Afflicted with the same homesickness he had known

on the judicial circuit, Mangum's enthusiasm for Washington diminished with each passing

month. By March 14, 1824 he had lost interest in the city's gay nightlife, telling his wife

that he would forego social events altogether if he could do so without appearing rude or

asocial. Cold winter evenings and poorly-ventilated rooms conspired to impair Mangum's

health.58 The birth of his first child, Sallie Alston Mangum, only intensified his yearning


Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1971), pp. 505-07, 512-513; Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:365;
McCormick, The Presidential Game, pp. 124-25.

56 Annals of the Congress, 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 2654-2660, 2713-2725.

5 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:146.

58 Ibid., 1:124.







88

to get back home. Born January 6, 1824, she instantly became a source of pride and

concern for both her parents who wrote lovingly of her in all their letters.9 Describing

the newborn to her absent husband, Charity Mangum joked, "she has a beautiful little head

& her hair is very like her father's, [only] thicker on the top. "6 From his lodgings in the

capital, the new father could only sit and wonder what his baby daughter was like. Lonely

and eager to learn as much as he could about the girl, Mangum pumped his wife for

details: "Can she talk? Does she seem conscious and observing? Does she seem to know

that she has gotten into a very naughty world? Does she know where her Pa is?" So far

removed from home, he had to rely on second-hand descriptions and his own

preconceptions to form an imperfect impression of her. "I am afraid she is like too many

young ladies," he imagined of Sallie, "giddy & unthinking.""6

The first session of the eighteenth Congress ended shortly after it had concluded

closed-door hearings on the Ninian Edwards affair. Mangum, along with most partisans

in Washington, immediately set off for home to help run the last leg of the presidential

race. Following a joyous reunion with his family, the congressman set out for the

hustings. His new status gave him an air of dignity and credibility that others wished to

exploit. Crawford organizers in the state enlisted multiple speakers at a single venue,



59 Priestly H. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 14 January 1824, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum, 1:103-04.

60 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 2 February 1824, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

61 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:125.







89

believing that the public would be more likely to accept a message delivered by more than

one person. During the late summer and early autumn Mangum shared the stump with

Thomas Ruffin and many other Crawfordites native to his district. He also campaigned

through the mails, urging his friends and associates to get out the vote for Crawford.62

Despite their best efforts, the Crawford forces in North Carolina failed to deliver

their state's fifteen electoral votes in the November election. Instead, supporters of

Jackson's "People's Ticket," a combination of former Federalist and anti-caucus

Republicans, carried the day. Jackson's victory heralded the breakdown of both

Republican solidarity and eastern-dominated politics in North Carolina. The new coalition

comprised elements that had once been at odds with one another. Counties along the

Albemarle Sound in the east combined with western counties to create a formidable

alliance against the powerful plantation districts of the middle-eastern portion of the state.

Mangum's home county of Orange gave the General a slight majority of forty-seven votes,

putting his chances for reelection in 1825 in jeopardy. Jackson's edge in the statewide

tally was considerably more authoritative. Polling 20,415 popular votes, he easily

outdistanced his closest rival William Crawford, who took in 15,621 of the 36,036 total

votes cast.63


62 Hamilton, The Papers of Thomas Ruffin, 1:311-12; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum, 1:153-54.

63 Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:371, 374, 409; Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics, pp. 29-30; Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), p. 18; Williams, "The
Foundations of the Whig Party in North Carolina," p. 116; McCormick, The Second Party
System, p. 203; Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824, pp. 156, 161.







90

In the national contest, Jackson captured more electoral votes than his three rivals

but failed to win the amount needed to take the election. As a result, the contest was

thrown into the House of Representatives where each state delegation had one vote. In

December 1824, the second session of the eighteenth Congress met in Washington and

immediately set about deciding the unfinished contest. Once again, "the presidential

question" took center stage in American politics. Contrary to the leanings of the

electorate, most of the North Carolina contingent remained steadfastly committed to

William Crawford. In spite of having served only a single term in Congress, Mangum

stepped forward as a leader of his state's pro-Crawford forces. Romulus Saunders shared

the responsibility of marshaling this faction behind the Georgian. In mid-December 1824,

Mangum felt that Jackson stood the best chance of winning in the House, but vowed to his

friends in North Carolina that Jackson would not get his vote. He could not speculate

about the outcome with a great deal of confidence because he did not know who Henry

Clay would support. Mangum suspected that Clay, whose last place showing in November

had disqualified him from the House election, would prove to be the wildcard. Whomever

the Speaker chose to back, Mangum guessed, would win.6

Mangum's seemingly innocuous observation that Andrew Jackson appeared to be

the strongest contender soon came back to haunt him. By the time his prediction had

reached Bartlett Yancey in Raleigh, it had been reworded so as to suggest that Mangum

had changed his loyalties and now stood behind Andrew Jackson. Nothing could be more


6 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:160; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and
North Carolina Politics, p. 7.







91

absurd, Mangum reassured Yancey in a letter written on Christmas Day, 1824. He

continued to hold out the possibility, however, that the North Carolina delegation might

try to use its vote as a bargaining chip if Crawford's chances began to appear hopeless.

Conversations with representatives from around the country led Mangum to believe that

Jackson was fading and that Adams had taken his place at the front of the pack.65 Writing

from his father-in-law's home near Wake Forest, North Carolina, Priestly Mangum

thought Jackson's chances remained very good. He shared his brother's concern that as

a military figure Jackson would be inclined to dictate, rather than respond to "the popular

impulse of the nation." Neither brother had much respect for Jackson or the people who

placed their faith in him.66

With the new year came a renewed hope that Crawford could win the election. As

Adams gained momentum the potential for a deadlocked House grew more likely. If that

were to happen, Mangum wrote an ally in Wake County, Crawford would emerge as the

compromise choice. Still, he cautioned, Clay's refusal to make clear his intentions left the

outcome as uncertain as ever.67 Mangum also confessed his perplexity to Duncan

Cameron. Few if any officials, he stated, know what will happen next. "Clay certainly

holds in his hands the votes] of 5 states," he wrote Cameron, suspecting that the Speaker

would turn them over to Adams. These intrigues bothered Mangum, who complained,



65 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:160-161.

6 Ibid., 1:164.

67 Ibid., 1:169-70.




Full Text

WILLIE PERSON MANGUM:
POLITICS AND PRAGMATISM IN THE AGE OF JACKSON
By
JOSEPH CONAN THOMPSON
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1995
UNIVERSITY OF FLORiPA LIBRARIES

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
At long last this project is complete and 1 can begin the delightful task of thanking
all those who made what could have been a lonely exercise a pleasant experience. My first
debt is to William Cooper who suggested Willie Mangum as a dissertation topic. When
my mentor Bertram Wyatt-Brown approached Dr. Cooper on my behalf, he recommended
Mangum without hesitation. His quick response saved me countless hours of searching
by pointing me in the direction of a long-neglected public servant worthy of a scholarly
biography. Robert Kenser read an early draft of the first chapter and offered his special
insights. Lucy James, one of Mangum’s few surviving direct descendants, brought her
unique perspective to the project, enabling me to flesh out the senator and better
understand his complex family life. Conversations with Larry Menna and Thomas Jeffrey
helped me place Mangum within the larger context of early national politics.
While researching Mangum’s life I had the chance to work with people whose
professionalism made my job easier. The staffs at the Southern Historical Collection in
Chapel Hill, Duke University in Durham, the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh.
Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and the Library of Congress in Washington,
D.C. all expressed an interest in my work, helped me locate valuable material, and
generally made researching a pleasant experience. Special thanks to H. G. Jones and the
rest of the staff at the North Caroliniana Society at the University of North Carolina for

their financial support. Charlie and Sue Rice made life on the road easier by providing
me with a home away from home during my stays in Washington, D.C. So too did Pete
Troisi. These old friends fed me, drank with me, and listened to my tales of Willie late
into the night without complaint. My new friends. Bob and Maureen Lucas, along with
their dogs, showed me the way to Willie Mangum’s long-neglected grave in the North
Carolina woods. Indeed, to all those anonymous souls in and around the town of Bahama
who pointed me in the direction of his final resting place, I say thank you.
I reserve special thanks for my dissertation committee. Ron Formisano brought his
special knowledge of nineteenth-century politics and superior editing techniques to this
project. His comments and criticisms of the final draft have already proven invaluable as
I prepare this work for the next stage. Jeff Adler and John Sommerville made important
contributions as both teachers and committee members. James Button of the Political
Science Department came to my rescue as a last minute addition to the committee, making
it possible for me to graduate on schedule. Hal Wilson sat in for one of his colleagues,
proving once again that he is a class act. The irreplaceable Betty Corwine and the rest of
the staff of the History Department at the University of Florida guided me through the
byzantine process of graduate school, asking only that I donate ten percent of my life’s
earnings to them. You will not get my money Betty, only my gratitude.
While at the University of Florida I made friends whom I now count among my
dearest. They taught me to be a better historian, a better listener, a better friend, and a
better softball player. In my eight years in Gainesville I have had the chance to work with
people who I know will go on to become the leading lights of a new generation of
iii

historians, including Jane Landers, Chris Morris, Stephanie Cole, Eric Rise, Jeremy Stahl,
Scott Sheffield, and Jeff Brautigam. Several others — including Jack Henderson and John
Guthrie -- helped me survive qualifying exams, and for that and so much more I remain
forever in their debt. Another survivor of that process, Daniel Stowell, also led me
through that modern labyrinth we call the computer. He and his wife Miriam made
navigating this strange new world fun. Caleb and Beth Finegan read parts of this work and
offered their encouragement as I neared completion. My colleagues at Santa Fe
Community College have given me their personal and professional support during the latter
stages of this project. One of them, Doug Klepper, has given his support and friendship
all along.
Two fellow graduate students merit special mention. Dave Tegeder and Steve Noll
went above and beyond the call of duty, listening as I read page upon page of this work
over the phone. Despite the occasional grumble, both offered excellent advice and
demonstrated incredible patience. Dave read the first draft of my prospectus. His advice
proved especially insightful and gave the project form it might not otherwise have had.
Another group of close friends, some of them able historians, others talented journalists,
all mediocre softball players, made life in Gainesville more fun than 1 could have imagined
and probably slowed down this process more than helped it along. Nevertheless, to all
those who have worn the “Ducks” uniform, I extend to you my thanks for reminding me
that there is life after dissertation. To Kevin Fritz and Christi Lane I say the same and
add that your friendship has meant more to me these past few years than words alone can
describe. My brothers and sisters -- Joanne, Jim, Lulu, Maggie, Kitty, Jackie, Peter -
iv

my mother Joanne and stepfather John have given me so much support over an entire
lifetime. To my brother John who was there when I began my college career but left too
soon, and to my father James whose memory I try to do proud, I say God bless.
Finally, I save my most heartfelt thanks for the two people who have given me the
most during this period in my life. To Bertram Wyatt-Brown, a first-class scholar, an
editor of unmatched ability, and mentor in every sense of the word, I say thanks. You
pushed when I needed it. but never too hard and always with the best intentions. Your
editing has given this work style. If there are passages that stand out, you can be assured
they are as much your doing as mine. The awkward parts, on the other hand, are mine
alone. And to my wife Toni. For twelve years you have given me everything I needed.
Your financial support has allowed me to live better than any graduate student should,
your editorial remarks have made this work readable, your patience has made it possible.
Not once did you question my commitment to my work. Instead you allowed me to follow
my dream and make it a reality. But most of all, you showed me — in your smile, your
laugh, your eyes, your passion - what it means to be alive. I love you and it is to you that
I dedicate this work and my life.
v

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii
ABSTRACT viii
INTRODUCTION: THE AGE OF PRAGMATISM 1
CHAPTERS
1 RED MOUNTAIN 15
2 JUDGE MANGUM 34
3 THE PRESIDENTIAL QUESTION 63
4 RELUCTANT JACKSONIAN 96
5 PLAYING CHESS 135
6 ANTIPARTY PARTISAN 172
7 INSTRUCTIONS 212
8 WALNUT HALL 255
9 VINDICATION 275
10 VICE PRESIDENT MANGUM 303
11 HOLDING ON 344
EPILOGUE: TWILIGHT OF THE PRAGMATISTS 388
vi

BIBLIOGRAPHY 397
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 418
Vll

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
WILLIE PERSON MANGUM:
POLITICS AND PRAGMATISM IN THE AGE OF JACKSON
By
Joseph Conan Thompson
December 1995
Chairman: Bertram Wyatt-Brown
Major Department: History
For most of his eighteen years in the United States Senate, Willie Mangum wielded
tremendous power and influenced the course of national politics. He served as president
pro tempore of the senate, oversaw political campaigns in every state, and advised those
who became paragons of their age. His current lack of historical notoriety, while
undeserved, can be explained by his political style. His important work took place in
committee meetings, cloakrooms, taverns, or boarding houses; all places far removed from
public view. However, it was here that Mangum and a generation of leaders orchestrated
the development and consolidation of modern political parties and fashioned the legislation
and the compromises that define the Age of Jackson. This dissertation examines the
transformation of elite antebellum American political culture through the lens of
biography.

Willie Mangum's informal style of management together with his long tenure in
Congress elevated him to the highest ranks of the national Whig organization. His career
demonstrates the varied ways in which the Whig elite brokered power and exchanged
favors to maintain political viability. Similarly, his evolution from an antipartisan
politician to a leader of a national organization illustrate the conflict in American politics
between rhetoric and reality. The republican traditions so warmly embraced by the
electorate and so eloquently defended by the officeseekers, were often ignored in the
closed-door sessions that produced public policy. Despite a genuine belief in the principles
espoused by the Revolutionary generation, Mangum and his contemporaries placed
practical concerns above potentially divisive ideals and employed both formal and informal
mechanisms to achieve what they regarded as workable solutions to complex problems.
His flexible definition of republicanism and pragmatic approach to power politics served
him well in an age when a market revolution was transforming American society.
IX

INTRODUCTION
THE AGE OF PRAGMATISM
Henry Clay's funeral procession moved solemnly down Pennsylvania Avenue and
into the senate chamber where the body of the great compromiser would lay in state. Six
United States senators filed alongside the caisson as honorary pallbearers, their faces and
reputations almost as well known to the American people as the man they had come to
mourn. Among those marching was Lewis Cass, the Democratic presidential nominee in
1848, and John Bell, former Speaker of the House. Willie Person Mangum, the senior
senator from North Carolina and one of Clay's closest friends and most trusted allies,
walked with them.1 Both Clay and Mangum enjoyed long careers in Washington and both
epitomized a generation of political leaders in America. In what could accurately be
described as the "Age of Pragmatism" — the period between 1820 and 1848 — the two
stood out as paragons of an age. Avoiding divisive issues, creating broad coalitions,
fashioning compromises, and building a national party system, these two pragmatists
guided American politics from the localism of the eighteenth century into the modern era.
1 His name is pronounced "Wylie Parson Mangum.” See, Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.,
The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and
History, 1950-1956), 5:762; Willie Person Mangum to Washington Hunt, 8 February
1844, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Robert
V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
1991), pp. 782.
1

1
In carrying Clay to his grave, however, Mangum and the others were carrying political
pragmatism to its final rest. In effect, they were burying an age. Frail and bitter, the
sixty-year-old Mangum would remain in Washington for only one more year, ending more
than three decades of public service. While in better physical condition than Clay,
Mangum's political career was just as moribund. By 1852, the generation of pragmatists
had given way to a new breed of younger politicians. Mangum no longer fit in with this
crowd and so he left, a discarded remnant of the second party system.
Born in 1792 in Orange County, North Carolina, Willie Person Mangum rose from
the state legislature to the United States House of Representatives. In 1830, he entered the
United States Senate and served one term before resigning in 1836. Four years later he
was reelected to the senate, where he remained for more than twelve years. During that
time Mangum labored in the company of giants. He participated as a member of the most
prestigious committees, advised presidents, hosted foreign dignitaries, and served as the
president pro tempore of the senate. High ranking party officials looked on Mangum as
a man of national renown and often mentioned him as a possible contender for the highest
state and national offices. Rigidly partisan and chauvinistically southern in his public
utterances, he nevertheless enjoyed private relationships with men from both political
parties and every region. Two years before escorting the body of Henry Clay to the
Capitol, Mangum was a pallbearer in the funeral procession of John C. Calhoun, evidence
indeed of the breadth of his personal associations. Over the course of his long career,
Mangum earned the admiration and respect of those who knew him on a passing level.

3
Those who knew him well knew him to be an outgoing, honorable, and generous man.
He applied these virtues to a career noted for its longevity and success.2
Given his contemporary fame and importance, why, the historian asks, has Willie
Mangum all but vanished from national memory? He has been relegated to the
appendices of textbooks where historians faithfully record the eleven electoral votes he
received in the election of 1836. Little else of what he did is commonly known. Although
his current obscurity is undeserved, it is understandable in light of the fact that his
important work took place in private: in committee meetings, cloakrooms, taverns, or
boarding houses. While the lives of presidents and presidential aspirants of the Jacksonian
and antebellum periods have been noted, the deeds of those whose careers are similarly
noteworthy, if less dramatic, need also be documented. Political biographers are drawn
to the extraordinary and tend to ignore the routine: they look upon the beauty and grace
of the thoroughbred, only to miss the power and drive of the work horse.
This dissertation represents a partial atonement for prior historical neglect. It
covers the life of Willie Mangum from his boyhood up to the year 1849. Four historians
have started to write definitive, full-length biographies of Willie Mangum, but all failed
to complete the task. Stephen B. Weeks, Penelope McDuffie, William K. Boyd, and
Fletcher M. Green, each working independently, began biographies at one time or another.
Coincidentally, each died before they could finish. The fifty-four page McDuffie
2 Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union. Vol. 1: Fruits of Manifest Destiny (New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947), p. 314.

4
biography was published in 1925 and a draft of Boyd's work survives in the Mangum
Papers at the Duke University archives. Two graduate students, Edith Josephine Houston,
writing in 1960, and Julian Mclver Pleasants, writing in 1962, completed master's theses
dealing with parts of Mangum's career, but neither constitute a true biography and both
are dated. ' Mangum himself once intimated that the history of his life would never be
written because so much of what he did went unrecorded.4 The "want of a scribe,"
historian Glenn Tucker wrote in 1966, explains why Mangum has not been accorded his
due by subsequent generations of Americans.5
Ironically, Mangum's success as a party manager helps to explain the absence of
a full-length biography. During the 1830s he helped mold the North Carolina Whig Party
into an efficient organization. In 1840. 1844, and 1848 North Carolina gave all its
electoral votes to the Whig presidential candidate and for most of the decade they held
narrow majorities in state legislature and controlled the governorship outright. So, when
national party leaders met to name candidates to run for national office they passed over
‘ Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:vii; Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters in
the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical Papers. Published by the Trinity
College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University Press, 1925); William K. Boyd, "A
Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum." Willie Person Mangum Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Edith Josephine Houston,
"The Bank of the United States and Willie P. Mangum." (M.A. thesis, Appalachian State
Teachers College, 1960); Julian Mclver Pleasants, "The Political Career of Willie Person
Mangum. 1828-1840" (M.A. thesis. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1962).
4 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:741.
5 Glenn Tucker, "For Want of a Scribe," North Carolina Historical Review 43
(1966): 184.

5
Mangum, in part because they regarded his state as safely Whig. Customarily, the more
hotly contested states or those with larger populations won the right to place the names of
their native sons before the national electorate. Of those born in the Old North State, only
James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson, three men who relocated elsewhere
prior to embarking on political careers, won spots on successful national tickets. Had
Mangum been picked to run on such a ticket, he would have caught the attention of a
biographer before now.6
The literature on antebellum southern politics in general and North Carolina in
particular is rich and places Mangum in a larger perspective. In The South and the Politics
of Slavery. 1828-1856. author William J. Cooper demonstrates how politicians like
Mangum suited their rhetoric to the whim of the electorate. Using Willie Mangum as a
yardstick, however, Cooper's thesis, that slave-related issues were almost always the
central focus of southern politics, is overstated. To be sure, Mangum proved a stout
defender of slavery and ultimately sided with fellow southerners on many questions
pertaining to slavery. Like most southern Whigs, however, he did his utmost to see to it
that the question rarely entered into the discourse and looked to party, not region, as the
unifying force in American politics at the height of the second party system. Historian
John Ashworth, in 'Agrarians & Aristocrats': Party Ideology in the United States. 1837-
1846. better captures the inherent complexities of southern Whiggery as typified by
Mangum's evolving outlook on key national issues, but relies too heavily on ideology as
h Thomas E. Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861
(Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 162.

6
an explanation for most Whig policies. So too does J. Mills Thornton in his study of
antebellum Alabama."
Of the studies relating specifically to antebellum North Carolina politics,
Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second American
Party System in Cumberland County. North Carolina, by Harry L. Watson, is best at
placing North Carolina within the broader context of national politics. It also comes
closest to naming pragmatism as a driving force in elite political behavior. Two recent
works on the second party system in North Carolina take opposing views of the importance
of pragmatism in the process of party formation. In Parties and Politics in North Carolina-
1836-1865. published in 1983. Marc Kruman brings the republican synthesis to the Tar
Heel state. Locating the source of party conflict in the ideology of the Revolutionary
generation, Kruman argues that the Whigs and Democrats battled continually over which
policies best preserved republicanism. Thomas Jeffrey, in State Parties and National
Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861. views the partisan battles in antebellum North
Carolina as having more pragmatic antecedents. As he saw it, state and local issues had
become so divisive by the mid-1830s that leaders from both parties started to emphasize
national issues to unite easterners and westerners in true statewide parties. Where Kruman
is ready to accept the rhetoric of antebellum political leaders at face value, Jeffrey offers
7 William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978); John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the United States. 1837-1846 (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1983); J. Mills Thornton, III, Politics and Power in a Slave
Society: Alabama. 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978).

7
a more skeptical, and in my opinion, more realistic view of partisan politics in an age of
an expanding electorate.*
The use of the phrase "Age of Jackson" in the subtitle of this work is deliberate.
Although considered by some historians to be outdated, the phrase recalls how important
Andrew Jackson, as both an individual and an issue, was to the course of American
politics for more than twenty years. More importantly, it calls to mind the politics of
evasion that men like Mangum practiced throughout this period. In order to build national
coalitions in a nation of such great regional, social, and economic diversity, party leaders
had to mute the more divisive issues, particularly slavery, and focus less volatile questions
or mere symbols. The two major political parties to emerge during the second party
system were nonideological, as were most of their leaders. To appease their broad
constituencies, nineteenth-century political leaders, whom historian Edward Pessen has
referred to as opportunists par excellence, eschewed ideology. Instead, they focused
public attention on the quadrennial contest for the presidency. The "presidential game,"
as Richard P. McCormick noted, drew regional factions together in ways previously
unimagined and forestalled a constitutional crisis over the question that divided North from
South — slavery. On those occasions when ideologues did get the public's ear — the
8 Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of
the Second Party System in Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1981): Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina.
1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983); Jeffrey, State Parties
and National Politics.

8
nullification crisis, for example -- politics-as-usual came to a standstill and the pragmatists
had to reassert themselves by restoring banality to center stage.9
What little issue-oriented politics took place in America during this period took
place outside the mainstream. Reformers and idealists had to construct fringe parties or
leave politics aside to form private benevolent societies. According to the nineteenth-
century liberal paradigm, government was defined in the negative. The American people,
still devoted to the idealism of the American Revolution, wanted to limit the power of the
state. Any work beyond collecting taxes, delivering the mail, organizing the military, and
establishing diplomatic missions belonged to the private sector. The services provided by
the state needed civil servants, so those who entered politics were rewarded with control
of vast reserves of patronage. Therefore, government service attracted pragmatists like
Mangum, a man more concerned with power and position than with social uplift.
Laissez-faire government and the politics it spawned insured the rise of a generation
of pragmatists. The parties they built in the late 1820s were born out of personal cliques
9 Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society. Personality, and Politics (Rev. ed.
Homewood Ill.: The Dorsey Press, 1978), pp. 232, 258, 287, 324, 326; Richard P.
McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American Presidential Politics (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1982); Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics
of Jacksonian America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990), p. 10; Richard L. McCormick,
The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the
Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press. 1986), pp. 160-61; David M.
Potter, The Impending Crisis. 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), p. 226;
Frank J. Sorauf, Political Parties in the American System (Boston: Little, Brown and
Company, 1964), pp. 61-65, 127; Glyndon G. Van Deusen, "Some Aspects of Whig
Thought and Theory in the Jacksonian Period," American Historical Review 63
(1958):322; Eric Foner, "Politics, Ideology, and the Origins of the American Civil War,"
in A Nation Divided: Problems and Issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction, ed.
George Fredrickson (Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 15-16.

9
that had grown dependent on the good will of an ever expanding electorate. With an
innate distrust for activist governments. Mangum and others like him concentrated on
distributing the benefits of the state to these voters in the guise of keeping the state in
check. Tariff policy, incorporation laws, bank charters, internal improvements, and the
redistribution of proceeds from the sale of the public domain, all represented efforts by a
new professional class of politicians to broaden their own power bases while limiting the
reach of the state. As historian Richard L. McCormick has shown, "policies of allocation
and distribution proved remarkably conducive to the formation and persistence of parties."
They were also safe, an essential element in the process of party formation in a large
republic. Pragmatists like Mangum, Henry Clay, and Martin Van Burén built and
maintained the second party system with the belief that immutable principles had to remain
in the background and used distributive policies to guarantee its continuance.10
While Mangum held strong opinions, he rarely let them interrupt the normal course
of business. In this regard he embodies a centrist tradition as old as the nation itself. For
all of its history the United States produced politicians with the same moderate proclivities.
Compromising individual principles for what was believed to be the greater good of the
nation, men like Mangum defined the nature of national politics for generations to come.
An informal style of management, coupled with his long tenure in the United States
Congress, elevated Mangum to the highest ranks of the national Whig organization. From
there he had a unique perspective on a dynamic era. His career illustrates the varied ways
10 McCormick, The Party Period and Public Policy, pp. 139. See also, ibid., pp. 206-
210.

10
in which the Whig elite brokered power and exchanged favors in order to stay in office and
maintain viability. Despite a genuine belief in the principles espoused by the
Revolutionary generation. Mangum and the other political leaders of the era often placed
practical concerns above principles and employed both formal and informal mechanisms
to achieve justifiable ends. Confronting the contradictions between the republican tradition
of an earlier generation and the demands of a society in the throes of a market revolution,
pragmatic politicians organized the electorate and guided American political organizations
from factions to parties.
Biographies humanize the past. For this reason several historians have raised a cry
for more political biographies. David Brion Davis wrote that biographies allow us to
"examine in detail how the personality crisis of a complex individual reflect tensions
within the general culture and how the individual's resolutions of conflict within himself
lead ultimately to transformations within the culture." As this biography will demonstrate,
Willie Mangum personified the dramatic shift in values of southern Whiggery between the
years 1830 and 1850 and so lends Davis' statement credibility.11 Ronald Formisano also
called for "studies of elite motivation." "The much heralded replacement of traditional
notables by a 'new class' of professional politicians," Formisano wrote in 1974, "should
be systematically studied" if we are to understand the broader political changes that
11 David Brion Davis, "Some Recent Directions in Cultural History," American
Historical Review 73 (1968):704.

occurred during the early national period.12 More recently Peter Knupfer and Michael
Holt have made similar appeals.13
The scholarship of the past thirty years has redefined political history as the study
of political culture, constituent behavior, and the ideological basis of mass political parties.
Still, for all their achievements, students of the new political history and the republican
synthesis have replaced flesh and blood characters with abstractions and statistical
aggregates. Biography restores the participants to historical discourse and human agency
to the process of party formation. Indeed, this work represents a necessary corrective to
what I believe to be the overstatements of the republican synthesis. So much of that
literature mistakes political rhetoric for reality. This is not to suggest that Mangum's
generation rejected ideology. Instead, they understood that principles were often luxuries
they could ill afford as they tried, for example, to reconcile the antipartisan rhetoric of
republicanism with the need to organize an expanding electorate. Reviewing two books
on working-class culture in the early republic, both of which rely heavily on the republican
synthesis, critic Richard Stott remarked that he was "continually struck by how implausibly
high-minded artisans usually appear." The same can be said for the politicians of this
period. Like Stott, I believe that "by humanizing [politicians], we will make them more
12 Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participation Politics: The Early Republic's
Political Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (1974):478.
13 Peter B. Knupfer, The Union as It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional
Compromise. 1787-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), p. x;
Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American Development: from the Age of Jackson
to the Age of Lincoln (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), p. 22.

12
real, and in some ways more sympathetic, than the relentlessly respectable [politicians) of
so much of the recent literature."14 This study reintroduces party managers to the study
of American politics without retreating to the old elitist perspective. It combines elements
of the new political history and the republican synthesis while seeking to avoid the
overstatements.
The career of Willie Mangum coincides with the early stages of what historians
have labeled the market and transportation revolutions. Many of my ideas about Willie
Mangum and his times have been shaped by the recent literature concerning the changing
political economy of the early national period. A commercial boom after 1815 brought
national and international market forces into local economies, carrying in their wake
important changes in the nature of American politics. Charles Sellers wrote that "a new
generation of realists" eased the transition to a market-driven economy by using the state
to promote economic development. Facing social and economic dislocation, many
Americans fell back on an outdated ideology to express their displeasure with the new
order. Astute rhetoricians like Mangum fashioned their words in such a way as to appear
sympathetic to their pain, champions of their lost cause. In reality, they were nothing of
the sort. Mangum thought that the long-term benefits of economic expansion would be
great for the country. In the meantime, he, along with the rest of the nation, stumbled
through a new age trying to fit old concepts to new problems with little success. Indeed.
14 Richard Stott, "Respectable Artisans," Reviews in American History 22 (1994):228;
See also, John P. Diggins, The Lost Soul of American Politics. Virtue. Self-Interest, and
the Foundations of Liberalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 12-
14, 105-109, 112-113.

13
the tension between the promise of the republic and the demands of commercial capitalism
explain the disparity so often seen between Mangum's words and his deeds. Innovations
and inventions in transportation and communication technology only amplified them, as
railroad lines and telegraph wires drew more people into the vortex of national politics.15
The intellectual and ideological route travelled by Mangum closely parallels the
course followed by a generation of Southern Whigs. Like so many other southern Whigs,
Mangum emerged from the Federalist era with loose moorings and no particular political
affiliation. In 1824, Mangum, an advocate of states rights, aligned with the supporters of
William Crawford during the presidential campaign that year. After the Georgian had
suffered a nearly fatal stroke, Mangum reluctantly joined with Andrew Jackson and the
Democrats, once again following the path blazed by a generation of southerners.
Jackson’s belligerent response to nullification and his war on the Second Bank of the
United States alarmed conservative southerners like Mangum, who regarded this expansion
of federal power as an encroachment on the rights of the individual states and a threat to
the republic. Eventually Mangum united the opposition in his home state under the Whig
banner and by 1840 had placed them in Henry Clay's hands. For the next decade he and
15 Quote from, Charles G. Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America. 1815-
1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 348. See also, Ronald P. Formisano,
The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties. 1790s-1840s (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 16: Daniel Feller, "Politics and Society: Toward a
New Jacksonian Synthesis." Journal of the Farlv Republic 10 (1990): 155. The idea that
pragmatists often carry out the work of idealists is taken from, David Remnick, "The
Hangover," The New Yorker (22 November 1993):51 -65. Remnick's observation that
post-Soviet Russia has suffered because ideologues, not pragmatists, lead the government
fits nicely with my ideas and shows them to be timeless.

14
the other southern Whigs worked side by side with their northern allies. When the alliance
began to deteriorate over the slavery issue, Mangum tried to force upon his fellow
southerners a settlement many could not stomach. The pragmatist did not fully understand
the passions that divided his party. Fittingly, Mangum's gradual physical decline mirrored
that of his dying party. He suffered a series of strokes in the 1850s but lingered until the
outbreak of the Civil War. The North Carolina Whigs also held on until the war, but, like
Mangum, their best days were behind them. He shrunk physically and emotionally to
become a crippled reminder of a bygone era. In September 1861, Willie Person Mangum,
the quintessential southern Whig, suffered his final stroke and died shortly thereafter.16
Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, pp.
16
163-64.

CHAPTER 1
RED MOUNTAIN
On May 10, 1792, Catherine Davis Mangum gave birth to her first child at her
home near Red Mountain, North Carolina. Catherine and her husband, William Person
Mangum, named their son Willie (pronounced "Wylie" in the eighteenth-century English
fashion). The new parents had decided to forgo customary naming practices which dictated
that the infant should take the name of a blood relative. Instead, they chose to honor one
of North Carolina's leading citizens, Willie Jones. Born in 1741, Jones represented North
Carolina in the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. Following the war,
he served in the state senate, where he played a leading role in drafting North Carolina's
first constitution. Appointed as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the
ardent anti-Federalist refused the commission and shortly thereafter retired to his spacious
plantation in Halifax. By naming their son for one of North Carolina's most esteemed
patriots, Catherine and William Mangum may have been expressing their own republican
sentiments. On the other hand, they may have simply been paying tribute to a local
aristocrat. In any event, the new parents observed traditional naming patterns with the
15

16
newborn's middle name, Person (pronounced "parson"), the family name of the child's
paternal grandmother.1
Willie Mangum grew to adulthood in the shadow of what was generously called
Red Mountain, a gradually rising slope situated along the northern border of Orange
County.2 Located in the central piedmont region of North Carolina, Orange was home to
scores of yeoman farmers and a handful of small-scale planters. In 1790 slaves accounted
for 17 percent of the population of Orange County, the vast majority residing with masters
who owned fewer than six chattel. The arable Durham, Wilkes, and Appling loam that
blanketed the rolling hills of northern Orange County proved especially suited to the
cultivation of tobacco, which the first settlers and their descendants produced in
abundance. Some households added to their income by raising small amounts of cotton.
Alongside nominal yields of these cash crops, local residents harvested enough wheat and
corn and reared sufficient quantities of livestock to lead lives of rugged self-sufficiency.
1 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh:
State Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), l:xv; 5:762; According to
Bertram Wyatt-Brown, parents in the old South were more likely to name their sons for
a family member than for a prominent individual. Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern
Honor: Ethics & Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982),
pp. 120-21; William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of American Biography. 4 vols. to date
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1991), 3:330-31; Willie
Person Mangum to Washington Hunt, 8 February 1844, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
: This area is now part of Durham County. The site of what had been the Mangum
homestead is approximately seven miles north of the town of Bahama, along the Hampton
Road between the Mount Tabor Methodist Church and the town of Rougement. Remnants
of a brick foundation, a dilapidated tobacco shed, and a small graveyard, all resting on
heavily-wooded, state-owned property, are all that remain of the old plantation.

17
Some of the more resourceful and less temperate inhabitants of Orange distilled goodly
portions of their grain into whiskey and corn mash to smooth over the rougher edges of
their wearisome frontier lives.-'
In the 1740s and 1750s the first permanent European settlers arrived in Orange
County by way of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Primarily of Scotch-Irish and German
descent, they came to North Carolina looking for inexpensive land. Historian David
Hackett Fischer describes these backcountry settlers as violent and "intensely resistant to
change."4 Striking a similar chord, Russel Nye notes that North Carolina was "a
Jeffersonian stronghold of small farmers," adding that the state "seemed hardly Southern
at all in comparison with its. . .neighbors [Virginia and South Carolina]."5 The Regulator
Movement, an early expression of backcountry dissatisfaction with North Carolina's
provincial government, epitomized this tradition of self-reliance and violence. On May
16, 1771, the movement, which had spawned several bloodless riots since its inception in
1766, took a fatal turn when 1,185 militiamen equipped with artillery routed a band of two
3 Robert C. Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange
County. North Carolina. 1849-1881 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press,
1987), pp. 7, 23, 34-36, 38, 42; William Henry Hoyt, ed.. The Papers of Archibald D.
Murphev. 2 vols. (Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission, 1914), 1:38
4 David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1989) p. 650; Thomas Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p.
12; Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood, p. 7.
5 Russel Blaine Nye, The Cultural Life of the New Nation. 1776-1830 (New York:
Harper & Row, 1960), p. 114.

18
to three thousand ill-trained Regulators along Alamance Creek in Orange County.6 In spite
of their apparent proclivity for lawlessness and civil disobedience, the people of Orange
County created stable communities characterized by strong kinship networks and very little
geographic mobility. Families tended to cluster in one of Orange's eight "neighborhoods,"
where, as historian Robert Kenzer demonstrates, "family and kinship ties," not wealth,
became the primary factors in determining one's status within the community.^ The people
of Orange also founded towns. Hillsborough, the largest settlement in Orange County,
became a center of social, political, commercial, and cultural activity for this largely rural
county."
Planters in early nineteenth century North Carolina fed their offspring a steady diet
of corn pone, smoked bacon, and republicanism. While maize and pork had long been
staples in the Tar Heel larder, republicanism was a relative newcomer that succeeded in
redefining gender roles within the family. Functioning primarily as "the dominant unit of
6 The Regulator Movement began in August of 1766 and was centered in Orange,
Rowan, and Anson Counties. Its initial objective was to combat corruption in the
provincial government and place local authorities "under better and honester regulation."
A. Roger Ekirch, Poor Carolina: Politics and Society in Colonial North Carolina. 1729-
1776 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1981), pp. 164-65; Jeffrey,
State Parties and National Politics, p. 13; Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political
and Intellectual Leadership in North Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin,
Publisher, 1961), pp. vii, 48. Fischer, Albion's Seed, pp. 651.
7 Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood, pp. 2, 6, 19.
8 William K. Boyd, "A Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum," 1:3, Willie Person
Mangum Papers, Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina;
Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical
Papers. Published by the Trinity College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University
Press, 1925), p. 9.

19
production and reproduction," the plantation household also became a venue for the
indoctrination of future citizens.9 Republican mothers, exemplars of morality and self-
sacrifice, worked to inculcate these same virtues in their sons and daughters. More
demonstrative than earlier generations, turn-of-the-century planters spoke of their children
in unmistakably sentimental terms, emphasizing the intrinsic worth of their progeny over
their potential value as laborers. Fathers displayed new signs of respect for their sons,
granting them great latitude when it came time for the young man to choose a career.
Evidently, the romanticism expressed in the art and literature of this period had found its
way into the domestic life of genteel North Carolinians.10
The first Mangums to settle in Orange County were Arthur and Lucy Person
Mangum. Willie Mangum's grandparents. Born in the Spring of 1741 in Surry County,
Virginia, Arthur Mangum was of Welsh ancestry. His parents came to North Carolina in
the late 1740s as part of a great wave of migrants pushing south from Virginia in search
9 Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women
of the Old South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988), p. 48;
Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic. 1776-1787 (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1969), p. 48; For more on the southern diet see Jack
Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life. 1790-1840 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988),
pp. 171-74.
10 Linda Kerber, Women in the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary
America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 1 1, 52, 283;
Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household. 109, 287-88; Larkin, The Reshaping of
Everyday Life, pp. 52-52; Jane Turner Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their
Children. 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984), pp. xv-xvi,
16-18, 39, 62; Philip Greven, The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing.
Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977),
pp. 265-95.

20
of inexpensive and fertile land. That same exodus carried the family of Arthur's future
bride Lucy. In the early 1760s. Arthur Mangum purchased several tracts of land in the
Flat River neighborhood of Orange County. Arthur Mangum believed that in addition to
providing a richer soil, the higher elevation along the base of Red Mountain would protect
him and his family from the "fever and chills" that plagued folks in the lower lying areas
of the county. Raising tobacco, hogs, cattle, wheat, and corn and marketing their surplus
yield, Arthur and Lucy Mangum soon prospered. At the time of his death in March of
1789, Arthur Mangum's estate included an estimated 950 acres of land and seven slaves.
A substantial portion of this acreage would one day come into the possession of Willie
Mangum.11
Lucy and Arthur Mangum raised seven children on their Orange County plantation.
Their first child, William Person Mangum, born in 1762, was Willie Mangum's father.12
Upon the death of his own father in 1789, William inherited 200 acres of land. Over the
course of his life he would augment this bequest by more than 2,300 acres and purchase
at least 21 slaves. An estate of this size placed William Mangum within the ranks of North
11 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:84-85; 4:242; 5:746-47, 759; Kenzer,
Kinship and Neighborhood, pp. 8-9; Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum." in
Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial Times to the Present. Samuel A.
Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917), 5:238; Shirley
Jones Mallard, "Marcus Harris Mangum: His Ancestors and His Descendants," North
Carolina Collection, Durham County Public Library, Durham, North Carolina, pp. 6-15.
12 The exact date of William's birth remains uncertain. Most of the biographical and
genealogical studies relating to the Mangum family give the year as 1762, but always with
the qualifier "circa" placed before the date. McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie P.
Mangum," p. 12; Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," p. 239; Mallard, "Marcus Harris
Mangum," p. 10.

21
Carolina planter society. His system of values, most notably his desire to provide his
children with formal education, reinforced his identification with the ruling element of the
state.13
Part of the responsibility for managing the family farm and raising the children fell
to William's wife, Catherine Davis Mangum. Born in the Schuylkill River region of
Pennsylvania, Catherine came with her family to Orange County when she was a child.
The exact date of her marriage to William Mangum is unknown. On April 3, 1795 she
gave birth to her second son. Priestly Hinton Mangum, and on January 28, 1798 delivered
a third, Walter Alvis Mangum. All three of her children survived to adulthood. Beyond
these facts little else is known of Willie Mangum's mother. In all probability, Catherine
was a conventional wife and mother who tried to instill in her three boys religious devotion
and republican principles.14 She may have also suffered periodic bouts of depression, a
condition her eldest son feared hereditary. When she died on March 11, 1829, Priestly
Mangum informed his brother Willie that their father was grief stricken and that "the best
and dearest of our family is taken from us."15
13 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. l:xv; 5:747; Mallard, "Marcus Harris
Mangum," p. 13; Federal Records, United States Bureau of the Census, 1800 and 1810;
Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their Children, pp. 42-42.
14 Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their Children, pp. xv, 16-18; Larkin, The
Reshaping of Everyday Life, pp. 52-53; Ariana Holliday Mangum, "A Short History of
the Mangum Family," North Carolina Collection, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, pp. 4-5.
15Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:358-59, 368.

The obvious affection Priestly felt for his mother was equaled, if not surpassed, by
the strong attachment he and his brother Willie had for one another. Their close
companionship, which began in childhood, remained steadfast throughout both their lives.
As schoolmates at the University of North Carolina, Willie and Priestly belonged to the
same debating society and graduated together. As the two matured so did their
relationship. Priestly, who built a successful law practice in Hillsborough, became Willie
Mangum’s most trusted confidant. The younger Mangum gave his brother political advice
and looked after his personal and financial affairs while the elder Mangum was away from
Red Mountain. The respective skills and temperaments of Willie and Priestly worked to
their mutual advantage. Priestly, the more scholarly of the two, expressed his political
views freely and without fear of offending his listeners, a habit that rendered him ill-suited
to a political career. John Chavis, a mutual acquaintance of the two brothers, attributed
Priestly’s misfortunes at the polls to his "stubborn unyielding disposition" and his habit of
condescension.16 However, his legal expertise and social contacts made him a valuable
asset to his brother. Priestly also appears to have been more cautious in matters
concerning his personal health and safety. His rejection of excess in every form, for
example, contrasted sharply with the recklessness exhibited by his brother, who often
drove his sulky at high speeds and overindulged in alcohol. Surprisingly, their differences
proved more often to be a source of amusement then a cause for discord. As an expression
of his profound admiration and respect for his older sibling, Priestly named his second son
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:414.
16

23
Willie P. Mangum, Jr.17 Shortly after Priestly's death in 1850, a deeply depressed and
dispirited Willie Mangum wrote of his late brother, that for "all his peculiarities" he was
"the best, & most honest male friend that I had in the world.'"8
By way of contrast, Willie Mangum's relationship with his brother Walter could
best be described as ambivalent. The most mercenary of the three Mangum brothers,
Walter's quest for wealth carried him far from Red Mountain. He left home with few
regrets. His friends gone and the land "poor and barren," he could think of no reason to
stay. Even his involvement in a hunting accident that claimed the life of his brother-in-law
did not compel him to return to the comfort of his family.19 In 1832 he prospected for
gold in the mountains of western North Carolina. By the following year Walter had
relocated with his wife and children in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. There he earned
a living raising cotton, trading in slaves, and speculating in land. By 1856, Walter's
wanderlust had taken him to Louisiana by way of Alabama. Seven years later he fled with
his family to Texas to avoid the turmoil of the Civil War. After the war, the refugees
17 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:14; 5:99, 749-50; Evidence of Priestly
Mangum's role as a political and financial advisor to his brother can be found in all five
volumes of Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. For just a few examples see, 1:97,
118, 300, 366; 2:117-18, 378-79, 395-97; 3:143, 191; 4:299-300, 377; 5:13, 177; Boyd,
"A Draft of the Life of Willie P. Mangum," 8:2; Nathan Sargent, Public Men and Events:
From the Commencement of Mr. Monroe's Administration, in 1817. to the Close of Mr.
Fillmore's Administration, in 1853. 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1875),
2:211.
18 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:200.
19 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:48, 339.

24
returned to Louisiana, where Walter died on January 20. 1868.2,1 The physical distance
separating Willie Mangum from his brother Walter may well explain an emotional
dissonance between the two. Writing to his wife in 1836, Willie Mangum said of Walter,
"I fear [Walter] is never to come to good & yet I feel the strongest & most painful anxiety
on his account.'01 The passage of time did not bridge this gap. In 1854 Walter lamented
to his older brother, "I feel we live too cold & inattentive to each other."22 Despite
Walter's plaint, there is no evidence to suggest that their differences were ever completely
resolved.
Like many planters in North Carolina, William and Catherine Mangum established
a general store on the grounds of their estate, near the intersection of the Oxford and
Hillsborough highways. The store may have generated additional income for the family,
but, more significantly, it placed the Mangums at the center of community life. On its
shelves customers could expect to see canisters of tea, coffee, sugar, spices, salt, candy,
and fruit as well as a wide array of nonperishables, soap, ribbons, cutlery, gloves, and
boots. The store was also a locus of social and political activity. Neighbors and strangers
20 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:571; 2:48, 338-39; 3:211, 287, 295-
96; 5:312; Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," p. 239.
21 Willie Person Mangum to Charity Mangum, 17 April 1836, Willie Person Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Walter's later involvement in
the slave trade may have contributed to his estrangement from his brother Willie.
Mangum family tradition alleges that Willie Mangum prohibited his daughter Mary from
marrying a slave trader because he found the occupation disreputable. Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum. 5:760.
22Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:298.

25
gathered there to read newspapers, drink spirits, converse, and gamble. On election day
the Mangum's place served as the local polling center and throughout the year it
functioned as a post office. In his youth, Willie Mangum worked at the store, where he
learned the art of debate from customers who would sit for hours and argue about the latest
political controversy or local event. Willie Mangum rapidly acquired a flair for oratory
and an ability to joke and mingle with people that would prove useful in his public life.23
Young Willie Mangum’s responsibilities at the store included more than simple
clerking. His name appears alongside his father's in an account receipt dated May 30,
1807, suggesting that local merchants recognized the younger Mangum as a partner in the
business. His father also entrusted him to collect debts from customers who had left the
area without meeting their obligations. In 1808, Willie and one of his father's slaves
traveled to eastern Tennessee to retrieve a man who had defaulted on his debt to the elder
Mangum. Willie Mangum's journey into the Tennessee wilderness was not his first
adventure away from Red Mountain. Late in 1802, he had stowed away aboard a tobacco
wagon bound for market in Petersburg, Virginia. Once the party had gone too far to make
the boy's return home impractical, Willie made his appearance, but William gave his son
a lesson by placing him on horseback, where the cold autumn air gave the boy reason to
regret his mischief. Despite such minor challenges to parental authority, William Mangum
allowed his son to decide for himself which career he would pursue. When Willie
23 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. l:xvi, 1; 5:748; Kenzer, Kinship and
Neighborhood, pp. 20, 37; Guión Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social
History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937), pp. 98-99; Larkin, The
Reshaping of Everyday Life, p. 174.

26
confessed that he was "not cut out to handle a yardstick, and never expected to be a
merchant," his father apparently never questioned his decision.24
Having learned the rudiments of farming and business at Red Mountain, Willie
Mangum left home to begin his formal education. In 1809 and 1810, Mangum attended
the Fayetteville Academy, where he studied under the Reverend Colin Mclver. Before
that, he had trained privately under Thomas A. Flint and a local African-American
educator named John Chavis.22 He studied briefly at the Hillsborough Academy before
enrolling at the Raleigh Academy early in 1811. There he worked under the tutelage of
the Reverend Dr. William McPheeters. One of the finest preparatory schools in the state,
the Raleigh Academy offered courses in reading and writing at a cost of three dollars per
quarter. Students willing to invest two dollars more were also taught "advanced" English
and the classics. Mangum's test scores indicate that he had paid the higher sum. On June
24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:1; 5:747-49; Censer, North Carolina
Planters and Their Children, pp. xvi, 62.
25 Mangum's exact relationship to John Chavis has been a subject of debate. Edgar W.
Knight, Chavis' biographer, contends that the pedagogue's lifelong correspondence with
both Willie and Priestly, particularly the manner in which he addressed the two, suggest
a teacher-student relationship. Chavis referred to his former pupils as "my sons," a phrase
he used frequently when referring to the Mangum brothers. The fact that neither Willie
nor Priestly ever protested the use of this informal expression lends circumstantial support
to Knight's contention. Dr. Archibald Henderson, author of a biographical sketch of
Mangum published in the Durham Herald Sun, argued that the Chavis-Mangum connection
was a fiction concocted by Knight in order to exaggerate the importance of his subject.
Henderson offers no evidence to back his claims. Similarly, Mangum Turner, Willie
Mangum's great-grandson, refutes Knight's contention without offering contradictory
evidence. Edgar W. Knight, "Notes on John Chavis," North Carolina Historical Review
7 (1930); 326, 345; Herald Sun (Durham) 6 October 1935; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 1:315-318, 506-508, 574-576; 3:478; 4:186-188; 5:753.

27
21, 1811, the Raleigh Star reported that he had "excelled" in the academy's semi-annual
examinations, earning distinction for his comprehension of the "Odes of Homer" and
"Greek Testament.”26
Mangum's intellect also impressed Archibald Haralson, his roommate during his
first term at the University of North Carolina at nearby Chapel Hill. On September 13,
1811, Haralson wrote that Mangum had "a mind of a speculative turn and was gifted with
more than ordinary sagacity." Together the two young students studied Hume, Lucian,
and others and discussed the "arguments and accuracy of their deductions." And while
their conversations often digressed into the realm of "absurdity," Haralson found them to
be enjoyable and beneficial.2 The following spring, Mangum returned to the Raleigh
Academy, this time as an instructor. While there, he again caught the attention of the
local press. Representing the Raleigh Polemic Society, Mangum delivered a Fourth of
July oration before an audience at the state capital, which the Raleigh Register described
as "handsome and appropriate."26
Mangum attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1811 to
1815. At the time the institution was small, employing a staff of three professors and one
tutor. Like most southern colleges in the early nineteenth century, the University of North
26 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. l:xvi; 2:44-45; Weeks, "Willie Person
Mangum," p. 239; Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina, pp. 286-288; Raleigh Star. 21
June 1811. Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861.
2 Hoyt, The Papers of Archibald D. Murphev. 1:54.
26 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:3; 5:417, 460; Raleigh Register. 10
July 1812; Johnson. Ante-Bellum North Carolina, p. 323.

28
Carolina continued to emphasize classical Greek and Latin literature and theology.
University rules required students to attend public worship every Sunday. Tuition, room,
board, and other expenses amounted to about fifty-eight dollars per session. The academic
year was divided into two sessions: the first running from early January to late May, and
the second extending from the middle of June to the middle of November. The students
enjoyed active social lives, carefully balancing their schedules to accommodate both their
lessons and the young women of Chapel Hill. In later years Willie Mangum would recall
his days at the University as the happiest of his life, "when in 'sweet dalliance' we pluck
the gay primrose & scarcely feel the thorn.”29
Mangum most enjoyed his association with the Dialectic Society, one of the
campus' two debating clubs. "The Dialectic Society," he wrote in 1838, "is more
endeared to my memories & more interesting to my affections than perhaps even our
venerable 'Alma Mater.""1’ When he joined the organization in 1811, Mangum found
himself in the company of young men who shared common intellectual, social, and
regional backgrounds. The Dialectic Society drew its members primarily from the
piedmont and western part of the state, while its opposite, the Philanthropic Society,
recruited its members from the eastern counties. Clearly, the regionalism that defined
29 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:5-6; 2:529; Wyatt-Brown. Southern
Honor, pp. 92-94; McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie P. Mangum," p. 15; Kemp
Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, vol. 1: From Its Beginning to the
Death of President Swain. 1789-1868 (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company,
1907), p. 230.
" Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:529.

29
North Carolina politics during this period was evident in the social intercourse that
prevailed at the University. The political alliances of the late 1820s were also partly
determined by former club membership. Many young men whose names appeared on the
rolls of the Dialectic Society would later occupy the highest offices in state and national
politics. Among its distinguished alumni were future President James K. Polk, future
United States Senators William Henry Haywood and Bedford Brown, future United States
Representative Romulus Sanders, and future North Carolina Governors John Motley
Morehead and Charles Manly. The connections Mangum made as a member of the society
would serve him well in his political career.31
Beyond affording Mangum important professional and social contacts, the Dialectic
Society gave him an opportunity to improve his debating, oratorical, and writing skills.
He also learned about parliamentary procedure. Members conducted their weekly
meetings with great formality, tolerating only the most innocent breaches of etiquette.
Repeated violations of the organization's bylaws resulted in expulsion from the society.
During Willie's tenure, the organization dismissed only one member while admitting
scores of applicants. Willie served on several committees, including one created to
establish a code of moral conduct for society members, and from March 17 to April 7,
31 University of North Carolina Dialectic Society Records, Minutes, 1812-1818.
University of North Carolina Archives, Chapel Hill; "Catalogue of the Members of the
Dialectic Society Instituted in the University of North Carolina June 3, 1795, Together
with Historical Sketches," Printed for the Society, 1890, Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:7;
Max R. Williams, "William A. Graham: North Carolina Whig Party Leader, 1804-1849."
(Ph. D. dissertation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1965), pp. 28-29.

30
1814 he acted as presiding officer. The society sponsored a library for the private use of
its members. There they would prepare their debates, the highlight of the weekly
assembly. A review of the topics assigned, as well as the conclusions reached, reveals the
character of the club's members. On August 26, 1813, romantics won the day with the
assertion that love had a "greater effect on the minds of men" than fear. Such idealism
appears to have been the exception, not the rule. One week earlier the polemicists had
answered the question, "Is the prosperity of a nation promoted by continual peace?" in the
negative. The group also decided that it would be impolitic to emancipate the slaves or
grant foreign-born citizens the same privileges reserved for native-born Americans. The
conservative bent of society members is evident in both the questions they chose to debate
and the answers they agreed to record.'2 In 1858, more than forty years after leaving
Chapel Hill, Mangum professed that "many of my most happy and agreeable
reminiscences are most interestingly entwined" with the Dialectic Society. His sympathy
for its collegial function and political principles remained undiminished by the passage of
time.33
The onset of war with Great Britain in 1812 disrupted Mangum's idyllic interlude
at Chapel Hill. The conflict exacerbated divisions between critics and supporters of the
Madison Administration. These differences were especially acute in North Carolina,
where Federalism remained a viable political force. Despite their genuine attempts to
32 University of North Carolina Dialectic Society Records, Minutes, 1812-1818,
University of North Carolina Archives, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
33 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:356.

31
appear supportive of the American war effort. Federalists were unable to dissociate
themselves from the antiwar sentiments they had expressed before the outbreak of
hostilities. As the war dragged on and victory seemed more elusive. Tar Heels polarized
into pro- and anti-Administration camps. These divisions eventually found their way onto
the campus of the University of North Carolina and into the home of university president
Robert Hett Chapman. '4 Chapman’s frequent criticism of the war enraged his Republican
students. In January of 1814 a group of pro-war activists ransacked the president's home,
ran off with some of his property, and broke into the president's stable, where they cut the
tail off his horse. Outraged, Chapman conducted a thorough investigation of the crime,
but the hearing soon degenerated into a witch-hunt, as Chapman allowed hearsay and
conjecture to implicate several innocent students. Among the witnesses called to give
evidence was Willie Mangum, whose testimony included speculative answers to leading
questions.’5 Mangum's cooperation with the sham trial led some of his contemporaries to
question his allegiances and condemn him as an informer and a collaborator. Years later
his political opponents revived the episode in the Jacksonian press in an attempt to portray
44 Federalists occupied as many as 40 percent of the seats in the North Carolina House
of Commons during the war. James Broussard, "The North Carolina Federalists, 1800-
1816," North Carolina Historical Review 55 (1978): 19, 36-37, 39; James Broussard, The
Southern Federalists. 1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978),
p. 154-56, 176; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North
Carolina, 1815-1835," (Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 15-16,
21.
' Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, p. 233-36.

32
their rival as a reactionary and a "blue light federal speech i fier.Mangum never tried
to hide his early political sympathies. On September 24, 1814, fellow student Stephen
Sneed was pleased to inform Mangum that "the good old cause of Federalism continues
triumphant" on the campus of the University of North Carolina.37 In fact, Mangum's
affiliation with the Federalist Party would continue as long as the party remained intact.
On June 16, 1815, Willie Person Mangum graduated from the University of North
Carolina. The day-long commencement ceremony featured speeches, an oration on
"natural philosophy" and four debates. Of the eighteen students to graduate that day,
Willie Mangum was the only one who did not participate in any of the presentations.
Mangum's absence from the podium suggests that he was the only member of his class to
be denied academic honors. Despite his meager record, Mangum's affiliation with the
University did not end on that summer day. In 1818, he earned a Master of Arts degree.
That same year he became a trustee, a post he would hold until 1858. As a member of the
prestigious board, Mangum helped restore solvency to the institution after years of
declining enrollment and decreased funding. In 1845, the University rewarded his
achievements with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Ironically, two of Mangum's
most powerful political adversaries. President James K. Polk and Attorney General John
Young Mason, received similar honors that same day. Throughout his life Mangum would
36 North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 15 December 1835; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 2:365-66.
37 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:5; Broussard, The Southern Federalists,
pp. 181-82, 192.

33
remain loyal to his alma mater, advising friends to educate their sons at Chapel Hill and
working to promote the interests of his fellow alumni. '*
At the time of his graduation Mangum looked ahead to a bright future. His
optimism was well founded, for his early training and experiences had adequately prepared
him for the legal career he anticipated. From his first days on the family farm at Red
Mountain to the long hours spent at the general store, he had gained a unique
understanding of the people of Orange County. Local kinship networks gave him the
support and influence needed by every new applicant to the bar. His academic training
was likewise sufficient to the task set before him. By the standards of his neighbors,
Mangum was a child of privilege. He had been given a good education and made
important social contacts along the way. As he grew older these assets would prove
invaluable. The foundation set at Red Mountain and elsewhere enabled him to move
comfortably in elite social circles and provided him access to the highest reaches of power.
3it Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, pp. 247, 325-26, 496, 788, 823;
General Alumni Association, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Alumni
Directory (Durham; Seeman Printery, Inc., 1954), p. 590; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 4:240, 306-307; 5:461.

CHAPTER 2
JUDGE MANGUM
Within ten years of his graduation from the University of North Carolina, Willie
Mangum was already becoming one of the most influential figures in state politics. The
protege of the well-connected Duncan Cameron, he had established a successful law
practice, started a family, and served in both the state and federal governments. His rise
to the North Carolina Superior Court in 1819 at the age of twenty seven won him the title,
"Judge," an honorific which he never relinquished, despite future achievements. The
appellation elevated his status beyond his ordinary lineage. The work, however, involved
inconveniences that sometimes seemed to mock the deference due his judicial robes. He
frequently complained about squalid living quarters, poor health, and dangerous roads —
so much so that Mangum never seemed happy riding the circuits and looked impatiently
for an advancement far from such discomforts. At this juncture Willie Mangum developed
his public persona. A favorite in courtrooms and on the hustings, he possessed an uncanny
knack for anticipating the public will and adapting his mannerisms and voice accordingly.
This receptiveness to change served him well in a time of political flux, as politicians
scrambled to adjust to new circumstances.1
1 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 1:28-31, 35-36; 5:461, 750-751, 754-
55.
34

35
Willie Mangum left the University of North Carolina bent on pursuing a life in
politics. Like many others of his generation, he thought legal training the most
appropriate way to prepare for that career. The custom of the day dictated that he find a
patron with whom to study the law and aid his ambitions. Such a mentor was Duncan
Cameron, a neighboring planter with ties to the state leadership. The son of an Anglican
minister, the Virginia-born Cameron had made his fortune in agriculture before entering
the North Carolina House of Commons as a Federalist in 1802. By 1824, he had served
five terms in the lower chamber and three in the state Senate. An advocate of state
funding for internal improvement projects, he also served intermittently as the president
of the Bank of North Carolina, sat as a trustee of the University of North Carolina, and
was once the clerk of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Between 1814 and 1816
Cameron, who was also a prominent attorney, served as a judge on the Superior Court.
At the time of his death in 1853, he was one of the wealthiest men in the state, with
several plantations and more than one thousand slaves.2
Duncan Cameron and his family made their home at Fairntosh, a plantation located
approximately eight miles from Mangum's place of birth. It was here that Mangum
: Biographical sketch of Duncan Cameron, Cameron Family Papers, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; William
S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of American Biography. 4 vols. to date (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1991), 1:311-312; Harold J. Counihan, "North
Carolina 1815-1836: State and Local Perspectives on the Age of Jackson," (Ph. D.
dissertation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1971), p. 64; James H.
Broussard, "The North Carolina Federalists, 1800-1816," North Carolina Historical
Review 55 (1978): 40; Sharon Kettering, "The Historical Development of Political
Clientism," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 18 (1988): 425-26.

36
studied law. In exchange for his patronage, Cameron asked that Mangum tutor his two
young sons, Thomas and Paul. The nature of Mangum's relationship with Thomas, the
older of the two boys, is unclear. Born mentally disabled, Thomas never married and
apparently did not have much contact with Mangum after he left the services of the
Cameron family. Conversely, Paul developed a special rapport with his preceptor and the
two became fast friends. Mangum's lifelong obligation to the Cameron family appears to
have been a debt he paid without complaint. A grateful client, he would later use his
political influence to assist both Duncan and Paul. He promoted Duncan Cameron’s
political fortunes, at times at some personal sacrifice, and often turned to his patron for
council during election campaigns. Throughout his life, Paul Cameron, who would later
inherit and expand his father's estate, advised Mangum on matters of local importance and
lent financial assistance to the Mangum family/
Willie Mangum excelled in his legal studies. An eager student, he spent his
afternoons reading in the law office of Duncan Cameron and his evenings privately
reviewing the day’s lessons in his room at Fairntosh. Working well into the night, often
by the light of a single candle, his alacrity won him the admiration of his mentor. The
study of law in early nineteenth century North Carolina was an inexact science. The time
allotted for aspiring lawyers to complete their education was indefinite. Applicants simply
took the bar exam when they felt ready. As a judge of the Superior Court, Duncan
Cameron had the authority to administer the state bar exam to his pupil. It remains
3 Powell, ed.. Dictionary of American Biography. 1:312; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 1:69, 82-84, 88-89; 2:291, 435, 528.

37
unknown if he chose to exercise this right; what is known is that Mangum passed the test.
According to one historian, Mangum’s success was not unusual, for the test was a mere
formality. Nearly every student who took the bar exam during this period passed it.4
On March 2, 1817, the Superior Courts of Law and the Courts of Equity for the
state of North Carolina granted Willie Mangum a license to practice law. The new
advocate wasted little time in establishing a name for himself. Riding the fourth circuit,
he moved from one courthouse to the next, building a reputation and making important
contacts. He took on both criminal and civil cases and quickly mastered the art of
manipulating his audience. Tall, good looking, and well dressed, the eloquent young
attorney impressed jurors with his colorful, sometimes theatrical, displays. His face
contorted, his lips quivering, his arms waving. Mangum would begin closing arguments
in a whisper that rose with each syllable until the courtroom echoed with the sound of his
deep voice. An ability to express complex ideas without ever condescending to listeners
sat well with folks who appreciated the show of respect. When defending his kin,
Mangum held nothing in reserve: any tactic was fair game when his client's freedom or
life was at stake. One appreciative cousin claimed that Mangum's unrelenting cross-
4 Fannie Memory Farmer, "The Bar Examination and the Beginning Years of Legal
Practice in North Carolina, 1820-1860," North Carolina Historical Review 29 (1952):
160-163; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 5:750.

38
examination of an unfriendly witness kept him out of prison. In time, Mangum's hard
work would pay handsomely. For now, however, his thoughts turned to politics.5
Willie Mangum made his first bid for elective office at a time when the first party
system, such as it was, had disintegrated. Prior to 1815, Federalism had been an
important force in North Carolina. Strongest in the eastern counties, party lines in North
Carolina mirrored long-standing regional divisions. Although reduced to a minority party
after the election of 1800, Federalists continued to hold seats in both houses of the state
legislature. As late as 1815, one third of state officeholders identified themselves as
Federalists. Following the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans and the
conclusion of the war against Great Britain, many North Carolina Federalists began to
assert that the absence of a foreign threat had rendered political parties obsolete and had
ushered in an "era of good feelings." Skeptics saw this as an attempt by the North
Carolina Federalists to distance themselves from their counterparts in New England and
the discredited Hartford Convention: perhaps, but the debate had changed. During the
1790s, competing forces within President George Washington's cabinet polarized over the
conduct of American foreign policy. This factionalism gradually reached the state level,
giving rise to an embryonic party system. With the Treaty of Ghent, old questions
5 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Party Politics in North Carolina. 1835-1860 (Durham:
Seeman Printery, 1916), p. 32; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:9-10, 15, 34,
53; 5:417, 433-434; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861; Priestly Mangum's
License to Practice Law, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.

39
appeared settled and many officials in North Carolina and elsewhere found themselves in
search of a cause around which they could rally the faithful.6
The postwar nationalist agenda of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and other up-and-
coming politicians proved to be the stimulant for political realignment in North Carolina.
Naturally suspicious of any attempt to expand the powers of the central government,
former Federalists formed the core of southern opposition to a national bank, the tariff,
and federally funded internal improvements. Economic issues had eclipsed foreign policy
as the primary source of dissonance in American politics. One constant factor in this
atmosphere of uncertainty was the leadership. Despite new issues, new alliances, and
egalitarian pretensions, the same class of men responsible for guiding North Carolina
through the first party system would guide her through the second. Constitutional limits
on suffrage, property qualifications for office holders, and the "voluntary deference" of
the electorate assured that power would remain in the hands of the landed elite.7
h James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists. 1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1978), 181-183; Richard P. McCormick, The Second American
Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: The University of
North Carolina Press, 1966), pp. 200; For the best account of party formation during the
1790s see Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate
Opposition in the United States. 1790-1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1969.
7 Quote from Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The
Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 91; Broussard, The Southern
Federalist, p. 183; Thomas E. Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina.
1815-1861 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 51; Marc W. Kruman, Parties
and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana Press, 1983), p. 11.

40
The old lines dividing Federalists and Republicans had lost their significance.
Leaders drifted from one faction to the next without regard to previous affiliation.
Increasingly, personalities became the focal point of state and local elections, as office
seekers and voters adjusted their allegiances with each new contest. Even before the
collapse of the first party system, partisan identification among the electorate in North
Carolina had been weak. Officials failed to create enduring organizations. Besides facing
formidable logistic barriers — most notably inadequate transportation and communication
networks — potential organizers confronted a populace hostile to the very idea of party.
Most Americans regarded them as unnecessary, antithetical to republican institutions, and
a threat to liberty. This prepartisan political culture dictated the nature of political
discourse in early nineteenth century North Carolina. Candidates avoided any action that
could be interpreted as advancing the interests of the few at the expense of the many. So
while partisan identification remained a loose determinant of voting behavior during
presidential elections, local elections continued to center on the personalities of the
contestants.8
Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, pp. 66, 70, 80-81, 87;
McCormick, The Second American Party System, pp. 177, 200; Richard L. McCormick,
The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the
Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 157; Max R. Williams,
"Reemergence of the Two Party System," in The North Carolina Experience: An
Interpretive and Documentary History, eds. Lindley S. Butler and Alan D. Watson
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 242; For an excellent study
describing the role modern transportation and communication networks played in the
formation of mass political parties see, Ronald P. Formisano, The Transformation of
Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties. 1790s-1840s (New York; Oxford University
Press, 1983).

41
Political power in North Carolina rested in the legislative branch of the state
government and in the county courts. The state Constitution of 1776 provided for a weak
executive, elected annually by the state legislature. Really nothing more than a
figurehead, the governor had no veto power and controlled very little patronage. By way
of contrast, the state legislature was "almost omnipotent."9 Invested with the authority to
appoint members of the judiciary, legislators also recommended local justices of the peace,
who in turn dominated the county courts. The average North Carolinian rarely had any
contact with state and national officials. To them, government meant the county courts,
which had jurisdiction in most criminal and civil suits, performed essential legislative and
administrative duties, and levied 75 percent of the taxes paid into state coffers. In effect,
the bicameral legislature controlled, either by direct or indirect means, all levels of
government within the state. Membership within that body was extremely fluid.
Freshmen lawmakers comprised 40 to 45 percent of each new assembly. Despite the high
turnover, the demographic makeup of the State House changed little from one year to the
next. Property qualifications of three hundred acres of land for state senators and one
hundred acres for commoners, precluded most Tar Heels from seeking elective office.111
Willie Mangum entered this milieu in 1818 with his first run for North Carolina
House of Commons, the lower chamber of the General Assembly. The former farm boy
9 Kruman, Parties and Politics, p.45.
10 McCormick, The Second American Party System, pp. 199-200; Counihan, "North
Carolina 1815-1836," pp. 42-43, 170; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 12, 45-46;
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 50.

42
proved well suited to the rough and tumble of rural Orange County politics. In an age
when voters expected their politicians to be both entertaining and edifying, campaigns took
on a carnival atmosphere. As candidates debated on makeshift platforms, potential voters
listened with rapt attention. During lulls in the formal proceedings, townsfolk could be
found wrestling, wagering on horse races and other games of chance, or picnicking on the
fare provided by their hosts. "Treating." a custom whereby office seekers provided their
audiences with hard liquor and food, remained a common practice, despite having been
outlawed at the turn of the century. Candidates also took advantage of court days, Sunday
sermons, militia musters, and any other ready-made gathering, to deliver their messages
or confront opponents."
Willie Mangum felt at ease in these surroundings. Listeners appreciated his refusal
to alter his speaking style with each new crowd. He abhorred the disingenuousness of
well-heeled speakers who adopted folksy language when addressing rural audiences.
Instead, he proudly displayed his erudition. Mangum's candor provided a welcome
change. His impressive physique, mellifluous voice, and ready wit endeared him to local
audiences. In addition to engaging voters from the stump, he often canvassed from house
to house, concentrating on dwellings rumored to be unfriendly to his candidacy. Clearly,
he was one of them, a local plebeian who had risen by the dint of his own labor to become
a member of the ruling class. He embodied both the promise of democracy and the
11 McCormick, The Second American Party System, p. 201; Daniel M. McFarland,
"Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North Carolina, 1815-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation,
University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 27-28.

43
paradox of an egalitarian society; he had become a man of the people by rising above the
people. They granted him their deference and allowed him to shape public opinion. In
August of 1818, the citizens of Orange honored Mangum by electing him one of their two
representatives to the House of Commons.12
In November of 1818, Mangum journeyed to Raleigh to take his seat in the
assembly. The dusty streets of the little state capital were lined with brick and wooden
buildings. A four-story brick tavern called Casso's stood as the tallest structure in town,
and the three-storied Eagle Hotel offered visitors the most comfortable accommodations.
Legislators who did not stay at the Eagle or one of the city's four other hotels, took
lodgings at private rooming houses. In the evenings, lawmakers would gather at Casso's,
the Indian Queen, or one of several other local taverns near the Capitol to drink, dine and
relax after the day's work. Conversation often turned to politics, as debates begun at the
State House concluded in the ale house. Politicians cemented their alliances over an apple
brandy or glass of whiskey. Raleigh's informal style of politics aided newcomers like
Mangum, whose personal charms worked to a much greater effect when lubricated by
alcohol. Receptions at die Governor's mansion and "subscription balls" offered additional
opportunities for young assemblymen to ingratiate themselves with senior officials outside
the formal confines of the State House.11
12 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:430, 434; Martha Person Mangum,
Diary, 12 June 1853, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.; North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 21 August 1818.
Counihan, "North Carolina 1815-1836," pp. 34-36.
13

44
In taverns and in the Capitol, Mangum forged alliances with some of North
Carolina's leading statesmen. Orange County state senator Archibald DeBow Murphey
proved an important ally during Mangum's first term. A close friend of Duncan Cameron,
Murphey championed state funding for internal improvements at a time when many North
Carolinians were reluctant to fund expensive projects. Mangum also associated with
William Gaston, who, like Murphey, was a Federalist of long-standing repute. Bartlett
Yancey, the powerful Speaker of the State Senate, likewise worked with the first-term
commoner, albeit in an unofficial capacity.14
Clearly, Mangum had acted in his own best interests when selecting his
confederates. Powerful men one and all. Murphey, Gaston, and Yancey would later assist
Mangum in his ascent up the ladder of state and national politics. However, these
alliances must also be understood within the context of regional factionalism in North
Carolina. Divisions between wealthy eastern counties and the less prosperous west formed
the basis of factional disputes as old as the state itself. Intermittent regional conflict, in
evidence during the colonial period, became more pronounced with the collapse of the first
party system. East vied with West over questions concerning state funding for internal
improvements, judicial reform, and constitutional revision. The more conservative
elements in the state, represented primarily by the eastern counties, subverted repeated
efforts by western lawmakers to rewrite the state constitution. At issue was the question
14 Ibid., pp. 73-75, 103-105; Julian Mclver Pleasants, "The Political Career of Willie
Person Mangum, 1828-1840," (M.A. Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
1962), p. 7.

45
of representation. The Constitution of 1776 stipulated that each county, no matter the
number of inhabitants, was entitled to one state senator and two commoners. In time, the
twenty-five counties of the rapidly expanding west outstripped the thirty-seven eastern
counties. Westerners resented the disproportionate power of the east and fought to make
population the basis of representation in the lower house. Unwilling to bear the burden
of higher taxes, wealthy Eastern leaders used their numerical advantage to block funding
for expensive improvement projects, thus retarding the economic growth of the entire
state. As a spokesman for Western interests, Mangum naturally gravitated toward
lawmakers who shared his neighbors’ desire to reform the constitution and finance the
construction of roads and canals. So while his early associations may have been personally
advantageous, they also benefited his constituency.15
As a first-term Commoner, Mangum backed his powerful friends while retaining
some degree of independence. He voted with the majority in favor of William Gaston's
bill creating a state Supreme Court. Unquestionably the most meaningful legislation
passed that session, Gaston's Judicial Reform Bill enjoyed wide support in western North
Carolina. Mangum's affirmative vote, therefore, could only enhance his reputation with
the people of Orange. He also voted "yea" on the issue of constitutional revision. This
time his efforts came to naught: the General Assembly rejected a proposal to place the
convention question on an upcoming ballot. Distancing himself from the pro-Bank stand
15 Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, pp. 49-54; William S. Hoffman, "Willie
P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," The Journal of
Southern History 22 (1956): 339.

46
of his patron Duncan Cameron, Mangum opposed a move to increase the capital reserves
of three state banks. Mindful of popular prejudices, he spoke to his constituent's deep-
seeded suspicion of powerful institutions when he harangued "banking institutions in
general."16 His work on the Committee on Public Education reunited him with his old
classmate, Romulus Saunders. It submitted a plan to build schools in the outlying counties
of the state. The assembly adjourned without acting on the measure, but not before
Mangum had established himself as a friend of both education reform and western
interests. In his first attempt at writing legislation, Mangum sponsored a bill designed to
streamline the state's byzantine inheritance codes. Again, the act died with the end of the
session. Finally, he acted on behalf of private citizens who had grievances with the state
government. Over the course of the session, Mangum presented at least two petitions from
individuals demanding payment on debts owed by the state. To be sure, he understood the
reciprocity essential to reelection in a district as small as his own. On December 26.
1818, the session that began with high hopes ended in disappointment. Mangum had
learned firsthand that politics in the Old North State moved at an excruciatingly slow
pace.17
lh Raleigh Register. 24 December 1818.
17 North Carolina, General Assembly. Journal of the House of Commons (Raleigh:
State Printer, 1818), pp. 1, 16, 47; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 75-78, 80;
Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum," in Biographical History of North Carolina:
From Colonial Times to the Present. Samuel A. Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles
L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917), 5:239-40; Raleigh Register. 27 November; 4, 11, 18, 24
December 1818.

47
The impatient young attorney could hardly wait to resume his practice. Within four
months of his return from Raleigh, he had turned a tidy profit. On April 20. 1819, he
reported his good fortune to his brother Priestly, who had started his own practice nearly
two years earlier. That Spring alone, he crowed, he had earned "upwards of $1900 in
actual receipts." This new-found wealth enabled Mangum to travel in a style befitting the
country squire he aspired to be. No longer did he ride on horseback with his legal briefs
stuffed in saddlebags. Now he traversed the country roads in an "elegant,” yet durable,
sulky. "My prospects in the practice," he added optimistically, "continue to grow more
flattering." Unfortunately, his prosperity proved short lived: Throughout his life,
Mangum would be burdened with debt. Ever the romantic, he closed his letter with the
news of his impending marriage. "1 may be married this summer," he informed Priestly,
adding that he would know better once he had concluded urgent business that awaited him
in Raleigh. "You see what a romantic lover 1 am," he quipped, "[I] speak of settling the
business when speaking of love, how cold, how business like, & how ridiculous."18
The object of Mangum's awkwardly expressed affection was Charity Alston Cain,
the daughter of Sarah Alston Dudley and William Cain of Orange County. Born February
16, 1795, she had courted Willie for a short time before he asked for her hand. Family
tradition tells of young Willie's persistence with Charity's father, who twice turned away
the eager suitor before sanctioning the union. A wealthy planter from the Fittle River
neighborhood, William Cain considered the struggling attorney a poor match for his
ls Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:14-15.

48
daughter. Mangum's family background, future prospects, and youth worked against him,
for Cain had hoped to strengthen his own standing in the community by marrying his
daughter to an older gentleman of means. A shared animosity between William Mangum,
Willie's father, and William Cain only complicated the romance. Mangum did not share
his prospective father-in-law's pessimism. To him, the future looked bright. The money
generated by his practice, he thought, was enough to support a family. Indeed, Mangum
agreed that no man should marry until his finances were in order. In any event, the two
were in love. The practical and financial concerns of William had little meaning for
Willie.19
As the daughter of one of the largest landowners in the county. Charity Cain
enjoyed superior wealth and status to that of her beau. In denying Mangum's first two
applications, William Cain had acted in what he thought were the best interests of his
family. His caution was understandable. Planter society abounded with fortune hunters
trying to attach themselves to wealthy families. Mangum's decision to seek a bride outside
his Flat River neighborhood might have lent him the appearance of one of these ne’er-do-
wells, giving William Cain good cause for trepidation. Traditionally, matches between
couples from different neighborhoods meant that one or both of the families involved were
trying to establish favorable social and economic ties. Men and women interested solely
in strengthening kinship networks married within their own neighborhoods. Surely,
Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:14-16; 5:265, 461, 759; Martha Person
Mangum, Diary, 30 January 1853, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.; Ariana Holliday Mangum, "A Short History of the Mangum
Family," North Carolina Collection, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, p. 8.

49
Mangum, who had no blood ties to the Cain family, stood to benefit by the arrangement.
So while Cain would not go so far as to arrange his daughter's marriage, he did reserve
the right to interview hopeful bridegrooms. Having received Cain's begrudging consent.
Willie proposed to Charity. She accepted and on September 30, 1818, the two were
married.2"
At their first meeting, Mangum might very well have regarded Charity's pedigree
as her finest feature. If that were the case, it was a short-lived infatuation. Letters written
over the course of both their lives reveal a deep, abiding love affair. Much enamored of
his wife's beauty and sexuality, Willie often favored her with eloquent expressions of his
adoration. "Indeed my dear," he wrote shortly after their marriage, "absence teaches me
how rich a jewel my heart has treasured up, in my Dear lovely Wife."21 The sexual
allusions in his prose are unmistakable. "Indeed you must not think it romantic that my
bosom would throb with pleasure's purest ecstacy. while my wayward fancy would hover
around your pillow where all my hopes, my happiness & love lay in the sweet embrace of
20 Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political and Intellectual Leadership in North
Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin, Publisher, 1961), pp. 79; Robert C.
Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange County. North
Carolina. 1849-1881 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1987), pp. 14, 42-
44, 200; Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics & Behavior in the Old South
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 206, 209, 273-75; Jane Turner Censer,
North Carolina Planters and Their Children. 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1984), pp. 68-79; Brent H. Holcomb, compiler, Marriages of Orange
County North Carolina (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983), p. 200.
Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:19.
21

50
sleep."22 Her image invaded his dreams. Recounting what he called "the sweetest love
dream that I have had in years," he described how he and Charity "opened a courtship"
in a carefully manicured garden. The vision climaxed with Willie pulling Charity into his
embrace and kissing her "over & over again."23 Willie featured prominently in Charity’s
dreams as well, but the details of her subconscious were not committed to paper.24 The
sting of cupid’s arrow infused Mangum with a renewed appreciation of outdoor scenes like
the garden he visited in his dream. "Nature seems to have delighted in the grand &
magnificent," he wrote during a visit to the mountainous western part of the state, "when
she was piling in such whimsical combinations the vast allighenies [sic]."25 At times his
letters lacked their typical panache. After telling Charity of his desire to hold her in his
arms, he asked bluntly, "are you growing fat?," possibly a reference to her pregnancy.26
Charity's responses, also marked by passion, carried more restraint. She wrote
mournfully, telling of her loneliness and expressing concern for Willie's safety. "1 cannot
bear to think of the distance that we are from each other perhaps never to meet again
should you be taken from me in the prime of life," went one such lament.2 Part of her
22 Ibid., 1:24.
23 Ibid., 1:539.
24 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 21 December 1823, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
25 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:22.
26 Ibid., 1:487.
27 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 24 August 1820, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

51
pain came from the knowledge that her husband was unhappy riding the circuits. In
August 1820, she referred to his "disagreeable circuit," and prayed for his safe and speedy
return.:v Her compassion touched Mangum and called to mind the scene of their most
recent parting. "At this very moment," he wrote, "my fancy draws with painful accuracy
your very look & countenance at the instant 1 left you and my heart almost melts at the
picture." The bitter image of her "eyes swimming in tears" haunted him. but he took
comfort in her promise to remain strong and await his return/9
While the passage of time did not extinguish their passions, it did bring a change.
Their letters retained characteristic expressions of longing, but the pain of separation
seemed less acute. Habitually late with his correspondence, Willie often opened letters
with an apology. He assured Charity that his failure to write did not mean that his ardor
had cooled. "You are never to suppose for a moment," he wrote after one particularly
long silence, "that 1 neglect to write...because I do not feel all [of] the affection & love
that I had in our younger & happy days."*1 It seems Charity also found less time to write,
for Willie frequently inquired as to the whereabouts of long-promised letters. In 1841, at
the age of 49, Willie Mangum continued to speak with the voice of a young man in love.
"I desire to see you very much," he wrote from his from his rooming house in
Washington, D.C.. adding, "I love you very much, and never know how much I love you
28
29
Ibid.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
1:28-29.
30
Ibid., 3:299.

52
... until I leave you.”31 Unlike the notes written years before, this one combines the
musings of the romantic with the self-confidence of a middle-aged man happy in a mature
relationship with his wife. Shorter and more direct, his letters now featured as many
references to the weather, his health, his children, and his plantation, as they did to matters
of the heart. Similarly. Charity's letters included less pining and more talk of her children
and the plantation. Like her husband, she continued to profess her love and complain
about the long separations, but not with the pathos of previous years. Responding to her
cousin's assertion that Mangum would make a good president, she joked that he "would
not get (her| vote" because it would mean even longer hours and less time together. 3
For much of their married life, Willie and Charity lived apart. Willie’s law
practice and long tenure in public service kept him away from the family plantation for
months at a time. Charity's fear of steamboats may have been one reason for her
reluctance to accompany her husband on his travels. Her duties at home presented a
second, more practical justification. In her husband's absence. Charity assumed the task
of administering the estate. With occasional help from her father, her brother William,
and her two brothers-in-law, she looked after day-to-day operations of their 1,600 acre
farm. Charity relayed her husband's instructions to his overseers and supervised the
construction of their new house. When it came time to ship goods to market, she alerted
her husband and asked for instructions as to what quantities were to be sold and what were
31 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:176; see also, ibid., 1:225;
3:322-323.
32 Ibid., 3:190.

53
to be used for private consumption. She also settled debts and purchased farming tools in
her husband's stead. Business communiques between the two suggest that Willie Mangum
considered his wife a trustworthy plantation mistress. Their companionate marriage also
proved to be a useful business arrangement. The respect he granted her on matters of
finance, however, did not extend to the realm of ideas. The recipient of a formal academy
education. Charity's letters show her to be an intelligent woman capable of managing a
business and raising a family. Be that as it may, her new husband thought that some
topics, politics for example, were too complex for women and so made only passing
references to the subject in his letters. He would later contradict himself, however, by
insisting that his adult daughters read newspapers and keep abreast of current affairs.
Doubtless this change in outlook came about as a result of the examples set by Charity and
his three daughters. ”
Private obligations did not interfere with Mangum's public commitments. As a
county road supervisor, the pragmatic Mangum initiated construction of a three-quarter
mile long spur that connected his homestead to an existing thoroughfare. This selfish
allocation of public funds apparently went unchecked, for his popularity in Orange
continued unabated. In April 1818, he predicted that he would defeat his opponent in his
” Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 21 December 1823, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 1:225, 229; 2:18; 4:7-8; 5:759; Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, p. 214; Censer,
North Carolina Planters and Their Children, p. 72; For more on southern women and
plantation management see, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household:
Black and White Women in the Old South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina
Press, 1988) and Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress: Women's World in the Old
South (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982).

54
next run for Commons. Brimming with confidence, he added that it was only a matter of
time before the people of the Eighth District elected him their representative to the United
States Congress. He confessed to Priestly that he was frightened by his ambition. Public
approval had filled him with a dangerous sense of pride, and only "sound judgement"
prevented him from grasping for the "dangerous diadem . . . flitted before my vision &
ambition."34 The sin of pride was very real to his generation and any appearance of
arrogance could hurt his career. Mangum faced the dilemma of seeking public office
without seeming too eager to win. His reelection to the House of Commons in August of
1819 proved that he kept his desires well hidden. '5
In November 1819, Mangum returned to Raleigh to begin his second term in the
House of Commons. Joined by his mentor, Duncan Cameron, then serving Orange
County as a state senator, the seasoned Mangum took a more active role in the Assembly.
He displayed his new-found poise early in the proceedings by motioning for a minor
procedural change. This maneuver would be the first of many that marked Mangum a
crafty parliamentarian. Much of his later success was predicated on his special ability to
34 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:15; see also, ibid., 5:749-
750.
35 Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, pp.72-73; John L. Cheney,
Jr., ed., North Carolina Government. 1585-1974: A Narrative and Statistical History
(Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975), p. 275; Raleigh
Register. 20 August 1819.

55
turn the rules governing debate and procedure to his own advantage. In the national
legislature this skill would help elevate him to the highest post in the Senate.36
Following Cameron’s lead in the Senate, Mangum presented a series of resolutions
calling for a constitutional convention. Submitted December 1, 1819, his plan outlined
the terms by which freeholders would elect delegates and the issues these officials would
debate. As with earlier drives for reform, this one reflected the power struggle between
eastern and western legislators and centered on the issue of representation. Mangum
proposed that "the representation of the people in the General Assembly shall be equal and
comfortable to the principles of republican government." In other words, population
should be the standard of representation. '7 Additional proposals included the popular
election of the Governor and local sheriffs, provisions for the removal of inept or corrupt
Supreme and Superior Court Judges, and biennial, rather than annual meetings of the
General Assembly. Mangum's planned alterations to the state constitution reiterated a
mistrust of centralized power, first revealed in his anti-bank philippics of the previous
year. With these reforms he sought to limit the power of the state by making it more
responsive to the public will. Again, this attempt to rewrite the constitution suffered
defeat at the hands of conservative eastern lawmakers.38
6 Raleigh Register. 26 November 1819.
7 Quote from North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons
(Raleigh: State Printer, 1819), p. 39; See also, Raleigh Register 26 November; 3
December 1819.
j8 McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 97-98; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Journal of the House of Commons (1819), pp. 38-40; Raleigh Register. 10 December

56
The rift between east and west also featured prominently in the debate over an
internal improvements bill. Unlike previous battles, the opposition failed to maintain a
united front and the legislation passed by a vote of 72 to 54. Designed to diversify the
state's stagnant economy, the bill established a board of oversight charged with distributing
funds for internal improvement projects. Mangum, a proponent of economic diversity,
voted for the measure. He shared the sentiments of like-minded southerners who wanted
to wean the region from its dependence on plantation agriculture. Their only salvation,
he believed, was a modern transportation infrastructure built, in part, with state, not
federal, money. Mangum did not share the agrarian idealism of his opponents. How he
planned to finance these ambitious plans without the aid of lending institutions and without
expanding the power of the state remained to be seen. The young assemblyman was too
concerned with practical matters to perfect a consistent political philosophy.39
Mangum soon tired of life in the capital. Shortly after his return there, he
complained to his new wife that "Raleigh is as dull & uninteresting to me as the squeaking
of a Scotchman's bagpipes." The carefree bachelor of a year before was now a lovesick
newlywed. He looked with amazement at the changes he experienced since the previous
winter. "At that time I plunged into the vortex of fashionable dissipation," he recalled,
as time "sped away on swiftest wing." Now he described his company as "vapid." He
1819.
39 Harry L. Watson, "Squire Oldway and his Friends: Opposition to Internal
Improvements in Antebellum North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 54
(1977): 119; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p. 96; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Journal of the House of Commons (1819), p. 82.

57
whiled away his free hours, which seemed endless, alone in his bedchamber reading "tales
of fiction." Official business offered little relief. Frustrated by the inaction of the
legislature, Mangum seemed ready for a change.40 Fortunately, his colleagues rescued him
from the tedium. On December 22, 1819, the General Assembly elected Mangum a Judge
of the Superior Court of Law and Equity.41
Mangum rose to the bench through the influence of Duncan Cameron. Initially,
the senator tried to land William Norwood in the post. Opposition from rival power-
broker John Stanly, who wished to see his relative George E. Badger win the honor,
produced a stalemate. Eventually, Cameron induced Mangum to be his compromise
candidate. In the General Assembly, the official records tell a simpler story. On
December 20, 1819, the Senate placed James J. McKay's name in nomination and the
Flouse added Badger's to the slate. Apparently, Cameron dumped his first choice before
the Assembly took any official action. Two days later, the Flouse submitted Mangum's
nomination and began balloting. After all three candidates failed to win a majority in the
first round, McKay withdrew his name and the voting recommenced. Mangum won on
the second ballot. Cameron and Mangum's back-room deal caused a brief stir within the
opposition camp. Word of the episode did not reach the press, however, sparing both men
40 All quotes from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:19.
41 Raleigh Register. 24 December 1819.

58
potentially embarrassing allegations of cabalism or some other act popularly understood
to be incompatible with republican government.42
Established in 1777, the Superior Court of Law and Equity exercised jurisdiction
over both civil and criminal suits. Judges also discharged administrative duties that placed
a variety of patronage posts at their disposal. The original Act of 1777 created six
districts: subsequent addenda increased the number to eight and divided each into eastern
and western "ridings." Courts convened for six-day sessions, concluding on the final day
regardless of whether or not a trial was in progress. Even capital cases ended without a
verdict if a jury had not finished its deliberation within the allotted time. A shortage of
justices and the vast distances between courthouses necessitated such abrupt scheduling.
Barring misconduct, judges retained their posts for as long as they pleased.43
At the age of 27, Willie Mangum had been guaranteed lifetime tenure in a highly
respected profession. Unfortunately, he never enjoyed the job and contemplated resigning
almost from the start. His first assignment took him to the Sixth Judicial Circuit, a
territory encompassing hundreds of square miles in the mountainous counties of western
North Carolina. He found the region rich in breathtaking vistas but little else. "Rambling
42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:750; Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters
in the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical Papers. Published by the Trinity
College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University Press, 1925), p. 20; Weeks, "Willie
Person Mangum." 5:240; Raleigh Register. 24 December 1819; Hamilton, Party Politics
in North Carolina, p. 32; J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed.. The Papers of Thomas Ruffin.
4 vols. (Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 1:234.
43 Guión Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1937), pp. 622-25.

59
among the knolls" and the lush green hills encircling the village of Lincolnton, Mangum
relished a rare moment of serenity. "Spring is rapidly clothing in her rich & verdant robes
. . . the weather is soft & delightful."44 Nothing, however, could alleviate his sense of
isolation. "My desire to get home disturbs the sweet serenity of the scene," he reported
from the isolated hamlet. To his relief, the people of that town displayed more refinement
and culture than the folks he had encountered in the backcountry. Unable to hide his
disdain, he described the latter as "a population as little congenial to my habits & tastes
as the wild savage." It seems he found the rugged beauty of the landscape more to his
liking than the men and women who made it their home.45
Mangum also suffered the ill effects of the cold, damp mountain climate.
Unspecified health problems plagued him throughout the term. Spring storms washed
away already treacherous roads, rendering many impassable. Unaccustomed to driving
in such conditions, Mangum often found himself lying face-down in the mud beside his
overturned gig. Surrendering to the elements, he gave up the comforts of his coach for
the safety of the saddle. Overwork compounded his aggravation. "My labors have been
most arduous," he complained, telling his wife that he had put in more hours in his four
months as a judge than he had during an entire year as an attorney.46 Mangum would not
allow exhaustion to affect his demeanor. Presiding from the bench he cut an impressive
44 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:22-24.
45 Ibid., 1:24.
46 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:24; See also, ibid., 5:570.

60
figure, exhibiting the same bearing that had won him esteem as a lawyer.47 All his hours
before a jury, however, could not prepare the young magistrate for the grim task of
deciding matters of life and death. "It is not within the scope of my powers of language
to describe my feelings on the first occasion that a man was tried before me for his life,"
he wrote shortly after handing down a decision in his first capital case. "I have just passed
through two trials of that awful character," he confided to his wife, "the first was so
critical that the weight of a hair would have saved or lost a life, & in that trying moment
I was compelled to decide." The overwhelming responsibility was almost too much for
the 27-year-old judge to bear: his depression was impossible to conceal.48
Reassignment failed to relieve Mangum's unhappiness. Late in the Summer of
1820 he was posted to the First Judicial Circuit in the northeastern part of the state.
Impressed as he was with the vastness of Albemarle Sound and the nearby canals, he could
not help but notice that the Edenton Circuit, as it was more commonly known, offered its
own special kind of annoyance: mosquito-infested swamps. Again, his letters home stress
a familiar litany of miseries; loneliness, illness, and discomfort. He painted an
unflattering picture of his new environment as "a country filled with swamps, . . . flies
& musquitoes [sic]." "It is very unhealthy," he added, stating that he had lost nine pounds
since setting off on his journey. Inevitably, these conditions proved unbearable. In
47 Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861.
48 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:21.

61
November 1820, less than a year after his appointment, Mangum stepped down from the
bench and returned home to Charity and his law practice.49
Privately, Mangum told those closest to him that his father's recent financial
setbacks had provided an additional incentive to relinquish his judgeship. Mangum's
ability to bail out his father was compromised, however, by his own pecuniary distress.
Falling commodity prices and marginal harvests eroded part of his estate. Risky
investments consumed even more. In 1819, Mangum, using receipts from his legal
practice, purchased land in Haywood, North Carolina, a town situated at the confluence
of the Deep, Haw, and Cape Fear Rivers. Initially, this venture turned a profit. Rumors
that the state capital would relocate in Haywood, proposed bridge and canal projects, and
long-promised improvements to the Cape Fear, stimulated land speculation in the area.
The promise of further rewards led him to form a partnership with Archibald Haralson.
The two purchased seven more lots in Haywood and part interest in a proposed toll bridge
that would span the Deep River. When Haralson defaulted on his share of the note, his
uncle, Archibald Murphey and Mangum assumed partial liability. Additional land
purchases in Hillsborough and the collapse of the Haywood land boom put Mangum deep
in debt. The ramifications of his bad investments would be felt through the end of the
decade: financial security would elude him for the rest of his life.50
49 Ibid., 1:30, 32-33.
50
Ibid., l:xxiii-xxiv, 11-14, 17-18, 37-40.

62
To satisfy his creditors, Mangum solicited loans from friends and family members.
His father-in-law William Cain became his most generous benefactor. The relationship
between the two men had gone through some profound changes since their first encounter.
Mangum used his position in Commons to promote Cain’s views, encouraging him to visit
Raleigh before important votes. Always deferential, he insisted that Cain come at his own
convenience and not concern himself with Mangum's schedule. As a judge, Mangum
made a habit of visiting with his father-in-law before setting off on his circuit. Ties
between the two men grew stronger with the birth of Willie and Charity's first child.
William Cain hosted his granddaughter during extended visits to his home and looked in
on Charity while Mangum was away. On October 21, 1822, William gave his daughter
eight slaves. The added hands surely made life on the plantation easier for the Mangums
and improved their chances of generating revenue. Cain’s tacit approval of Mangum's
decision to stake his financial recovery on farming was not shared by Mangum's brother.
Priestly objected to his brother's decision to remain a country lawyer and urged him to
move to Hillsborough. "If you continue where you are," he warned, "[you will] gradually
sink in the public estimation.” The younger Mangum also felt that a residence in town
would help Willie's political career by assuring "a better chance for a participation in the
distributions of public favor." Mangum disregarded his brother’s advice, choosing instead
to launch the next phase of his political career from his estate at Red Mountain.51
51 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:44: See also, ibid.. l:xxiv,
19, 29, 43, 247, 337-38.

CHAPTER 3
THE PRESIDENTIAL QUESTION
On June 4, 1823, Willie Mangum announced his intention to run for a seat in the
United States House of Representatives in an election to be held that August. The race,
between Mangum and General Daniel L. Barringer, soon degenerated into personal
vilification, innuendo, and a narrowly averted duel. None of these features was alien to
the voters of the Eighth Congressional District. Historian Harry Watson argues that this
"predilection for gutter politics" served a higher purpose. Officeseekers, he insists, fell
to undignified tactics to preserve the higher principles of republicanism. Any
electioneering device was acceptable so long as it prevented unfit men from gaining control
of the state. According to Watson's paradigm, candidates temporarily set aside their own
virtue for the sake of the commonweal. The behavior of Willie Mangum and his cohorts
suggest different motives. To them, ideology was something to be exploited. Every
candidate, regardless of his factional affiliation or political viewpoint, invoked the same
rhetoric, rendering the republican ideology of an earlier era so elastic as to deprive it of
meaning. Instead of speaking to real concerns, candidates manipulated symbols and
language to arouse their followers and confound those loyal to their opponents. Editors
and printers participated in the game. Newspapers and broadsides functioned as
63

64
propaganda sheets, devoid of any purpose beyond electing their favorites and reaping the
benefits of power.1
Mangum’s declaration of his candidacy caught Barringer off guard. The general
told supporters that Mangum had privately assured him that he would not be a candidate.
Mangum, in turn, denied the charge, insisting that he had personally communicated his
plans to the General. In either event, the two had made a silent accord that showed how
meaningless republican virtue — as modern historians interpret it - had become. Once
underway, the two began the business of campaigning. Convention prescribed that neither
man openly seek office, but like Cincinnatus, officeseekers were supposed to enter the fray
only because an alarmed citizenry demanded that they serve when the Republic was
thought endangered. Again, Mangum and Barringer ignored the dictates of custom, which
in fact had been eroding for some years. Whether in the guise of an apolitical meeting or
through surrogates, the two campaigned up to election day.2
Constitutional reform quickly emerged as the most divisive issue of the campaign.
On May 29, 1823, reform-minded leaders from Orange county met in Hillsborough to plot
their course. The rump selected Mangum and four others to serve as their delegation to
a statewide assembly scheduled to met in Raleigh that November. Speaking before a
friendly crowd, Mangum reconfirmed his commitment to modifying the document, linking
1 Hillsborough Recorder. 4 June 1823; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and
Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland County-
North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 77.
2 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 1:51-52.

65
constitutional revision to internal improvements. By accepting the nomination, Mangum
invited the disapproval of a considerable portion of the electorate. The Eighth District
straddled both pro- and anti-reform counties. While most voters in Orange and Person
counties advocated revision, a majority in Wake stood opposed. Realizing that this would
cost him support in Wake, Mangum attempted to counter Barringer's influence there by
painting him as a friend of reform. The General denied the allegation as the debate
degenerated into a series of charges and countercharges. Mangum verified his claims by
assembling corroborative statements from several of the district's leading citizens and
releasing them in a circular letter/’
The testimonials of local merchant Thomas Clancy, former assemblyman James
Mebane, and other highly-placed members of the community attested to the duplicity of
Mangum's opponent. Each admitted that Barringer had indeed voiced qualified support
for constitutional revision during recent visits to Hillsborough, the county seat of Orange.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the circular is what Mangum chose to exclude. In
the official release, Mangum stated that he and Barringer had agreed to curtail public
appearances, emerging from the comforts of domestic duty only to attend Sunday sermons,
visit relatives, or to run "errands of charity." "I was utterly astonished," he alleged in the
circular, "to understand that Gen. Barringer was, on Sunday the 3d instant, thirteen miles
from home, ... not attending to divine worship, but talking to the people on the subjects
’ Ibid., 1:51-57; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 June 1823.

66
of elections and amending the state constitution."4 To his friend Seth Jones, however,
Mangum admitted that this self-imposed exile from public functions applied to Sundays
as well. "I thought proper to omit that fact . . . lest it might hurt the feelings of some
religious people."5 Mangum's candor offers a glimpse at the discrepancies between what
officials often said and how they actually behaved. It also calls into question the value of
newspapers, pamphlets, and speeches as barometers of the ideological commitment
professed by elite figures in early nineteenth century American politics. If both Barringer
and Mangum were willing to tailor their statements to public notions of proper conduct
vis-a-vis the church, what was to prevent them from doing so with regard to secular
ideologies and institutions? Whether uttered by politicians or published by equally partisan
editors, public pronouncements shrouded in the language of republicanism or any other
popular conviction must be viewed with a jaundiced eye.
Barringer responded to Mangum's assault with an equally caustic circular. Dated
August 9, 1823. it alleged diat the affidavits included in his opponent’s handbill had been
written by Mangum's allies. With the election only a few days off, Barringer said he had
no time to compile his own "certificates." Instead, his offered an "unbiased" account of
events that would show that "trick and stratagem" were "the most prominent features in
[Mangum's] character." He averred that the Judge intentionally altered his speeches so
that they would conform to the opinions of his listeners. In Wake County, for example,
4 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:61.
Ibid., 1:63-64.
5

67
Mangum was said to have spoken unenthusiastically about constitutional revision: in
Orange he expressed himself otherwise. Responding to Mangum's insinuations that he
championed the unpopular Bank of the United States, Barringer pointed to Mangum's long
association with its leading proponent, Duncan Cameron, as evidence of guilt by
association. As for the ban on electioneering, Barringer returned Mangum's charge of
duplicity. While in Raleigh, Barringer chanced upon Mangum’s overseer as he delivered
campaign literature for his master, an obvious breach of their earlier pact.6 Whether
rooted in fact, fiction or both, the General's circular proved too little too late. The mid-
August elections gave Mangum a 794 vote majority over his rival.7
Questions surrounding the authorship of Barringer's "scurrilous handbill" continued
to surface long after the last votes had been tallied.8 In a series of letters written between
September 30 and October 17, 1823. Mangum and Henry Seawell, a local politician and
judge, exchanged allegations of slander and improper conduct in connection with the
circular. Only the intercession of their seconds averted a duel. The episode began when
Seawell reproached Mangum for publicly maligning his name when he accused him of
writing the document. Mangum admitted that he believed Seawell to be the author, but
denied having made any remark that could be interpreted as derogatory. However, he did
state that Seawell's participation in the matter came after he had pledged his neutrality in
6 Ibid., 1:65-69.
7 Raleigh Register. 22 August 1823.
8 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:70.

68
the election. Misunderstandings heightened their mutual animosity, as each man
stubbornly postured to appear the more aggrieved party. Eventually the two discontinued
direct communication and began speaking through intermediaries. Mangum even went so
far as to go to Raleigh in anticipation of a duel that never materialized. In the end, the
two settled their differences without resorting to violence. The incident showed Mangum's
political immaturity. The newly-elected Congressman risked public censure and personal
injury over a minor misunderstanding, one that could have been cleared up much sooner
had either man issued an unqualified apology. It also earned Mangum the enmity of an
important power broker. Later in life he learned to settle his disputes quickly, defusing
troublesome situations before they became unmanageable.9
Before taking his seat in the national legislature, Mangum went to Raleigh to attend
a constitutional convention. The extra-legal conference met at the urging of a caucus of
western legislators, who had scheduled the event during the previous session of the
General Assembly. Mangum arrived on November 11, 1823, the day after the conference
began. Montfort Stokes, the venerated Revolutionary War veteran, presided over the
proceedings and assigned Mangum, Bartlett Yancey, and five others to the Committee on
Amendments. As with earlier efforts to alter the charter, this one turned on the question
of representation. The relative absence of eastern obstructionists did not ease the process.
The slaveholders in the central piedmont region found themselves at odds with the non¬
slaveholding yeomen who dominated the western delegation. While the entire body agreed
9 Ibid., 1:70-79.

69
that population should be the basis of representation, piedmont delegates favored counting
slaves as three-fifths of a person when calculating population figures. Westerners argued
that only free whites should be counted. Mangum spoke in favor of the latter position and
also moved to reduce property qualifications for office holders. Piedmont representatives
emerged the victors, but in the process had created ruinous divisions within the reform
movement. After five days of meetings, the convention put together a list of proposals
drawn up by Bartlett Yancey and presented them to the incoming legislative assembly.10
The new General Assembly quietly tabled the plan submitted by the convention.
Twelve years passed before advocates succeeded in revising the constitution. Mangum
would not have to wait as long for his rewards. His actions at the assembly once again
caught the attention of the press, which came to regard him as the chief spokesman for
western interests. His motives were both noble and selfish. Clearly, the causes of
democracy and representative government would have been better served by his initiatives.
Equally true, however, is the fact that by expanding the power of the west he augmented
his own reputation and power. The correlation between one's geographic power base and
their support for constitutional revision was hardly a random coincidence. Western leaders
like Mangum pledged themselves to lofty principles when speaking about revision, but
knew very well the practical consequences of their mission.11
10 Raleigh Register. 14, 21 November 1823; William Omer Foster, "The Career of
Montfort Stokes in North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 16 (1939): 253-
254; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North Carolina,
1815-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 148-150.
Foster, "Montfort Stokes," pp. 255-256; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p 151.
11

70
On the morning of November 26, 1823, Mangum boarded a stagecoach bound for
the nation's capital. Shortly after he arrived he took the oath of office and began his
inaugural term in the United States House of Representatives.12 His first impression of
official Washington was one that would stay with him for life. "So little of principle
enters into the context of ambitious men for power,” he wrote to his friend and mentor
Duncan Cameron.1' On December 10, 1823, Mangum relayed to Cameron news that "the
Presidential question is here a topic of frequent, 1 might almost say, constant
conversation."14 With less than a year to go before the next presidential election, Congress
buzzed with rumors as the leading contenders jockeyed for the first office. The official
business of the congress, he believed, was subordinated to the unending struggle for
power. Mangum saw little of the party spirit and devotion to ideals that he believed
guided the founders of the republic. In their place stood ambitious men leading personal
factions. The events of his first month in office were not all disenchanting. Surrounded
by the greatest orators of his generation, Mangum made special note of the talents of
Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. He wrote admiringly of the Kentuckian's "superior
qualifications and transcendent abilities," and thought that maybe his ascension indicated
that merit would determine who led in the post-partisan age.15
12 Willie P. Mangum to Phillips Moore, 26 November 1823, Stephen Moore Papers,
Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham North Carolina.
13 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:84.
14 Ibid., 1:83.
Quote from, ibid., 1:82; See also, ibid., 1:109.
15

71
Listed as a Federalist in the official records, Mangum was in reality as
uncommitted to old party lines as the men he had disparaged in his letter to Cameron.16
As a conservative dedicated to protecting the rights of the states against what he saw as the
encroaching power of the federal government, Mangum looked to fellow North Carolinian
Nathaniel Macon as a natural ally. The aging senator proved a useful friend to the
newcomer. Hailing from the eastern part of the state, Macon embodied conservatism and
old republican ideals like no other man in North Carolina. He mistrusted banks, credit,
and paper currency. A strict constructionist, he vehemently opposed federally funded
internal improvements and articulated his resistance as part of a defense of slavery. "If
Congress can make canals," he reasoned, "they can with more propriety emancipate.”17
Although Mangum never phrased his objections with such dexterity, he agreed that
responsibility for internal improvements should be left to the individual states. Amiable
and outgoing, Mangum also developed a friendship with nationalist John C. Calhoun of
lh John L. Cheney, Jr., ed.. North Carolina Government. 1585-1974: A Narrative and
Statistical History (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975),
pp. 675-76.
17 Quoted in Harry L. Watson, "Squire Oldway and his Friends: Opposition to Internal
Improvements in Antebellum North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 54
(1977): 107; See also, ibid., p. 116; Robert E. Shalhope, "Thomas Jefferson's
Republicanism and Antebellum Southern Thought," Journal of Southern History 42
(1976):548; Harold J. Counihan, "The North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835:
A Study in Jacksonian Democracy," North Carolina Historical Review 46 (1969):358;
Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861.
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), p. 42; Elizabeth S. Hoyt, "Reactions in
North Carolina to Jackson's Banking Policy, 1829-1832," North Carolina Historical
Review 25 (1948): 172; Max R. Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North
Carolina: A Synthesis and a Modest Proposal," North Carolina Historical Review 47
(1970): 115; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:305.

72
South Carolina. The ideological spectrum represented by Mangum's companions shows
his willingness look beyond political differences in his private affairs, a tendency that
stayed with him all his life and proved useful in furthering his political objectives.18
When not distracted by the impending presidential contest, members of the first
session of the Eighteenth Congress occupied the majority of their time with internal
improvements legislation and a new tariff. Early in 1824 Congress debated a measure that
would grant the Army Corps of Engineers authority to survey roads and canals for military
use or as postal routes. Mangum viewed the proposal as part of a scheme to expand the
power of the federal government at the expense of constitutional literalism. As he saw it,
the "ultra republicans," led by his friend Calhoun, had drawn up their plan with the full
blessing of President James Monroe. "The new school has taken the principles of the old
Federalists," Mangum worried, "but press their principles much further I mean on the
subjects of internal improvements, etc., and especially in a latitudinous construction of the
constitution generally." The nationalism of the old Federalist Party had been appropriated
by men who called themselves Republicans. Strict construction, once the centerpiece of
Jeffersonian ideology, had been laid to rest. Mangum refused to accept this new
orthodoxy. On February 10, 1824, after nearly a month of discussion, he cast his vote
with the minority against the bill.19
18 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. p. l:xx, 109.
19 Quotes from, ibid., 1:109; See also. United States Congress, Annals of the Congress
of the United States. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 1399, 1468-69.

73
Mangum's opposition to the Tariff of 1824 demonstrated his practical commitment
to southern economic development. Unlike his attack against internal improvements, he
phrased his objections to high import duties in economic and sectional terms, rather than
in constitutional terms. First submitted on January 9, 1824, the new tariff was conceived
as the keystone of Henry Clay's American System. The initial proposal enumerated a long
list of finished products subject to the levy. With ad valorem rates as high as 25 to 35
percent on certain raw materials — wool, cotton, silk, hemp, and flax, for example --
southern lawmakers like Mangum complained of being trapped in a system that placed
their region in a state of dependency. Forced to sell their cotton in an open market and
to purchase Northern goods in a closed market, they denounced northern capitalists who
colluded with the federal government to impose their repressive system. Mangum and
others understood the necessity of generating revenue, but failed to see the wisdom of
protecting domestic manufacturing if it meant higher prices for southern consumers and
lower profits for southern planters.211 In one of his few recorded statements of the session.
Mangum mildly rebuked the tariff, "professing his general objections to the bill" on the
floor of the House.21 To his friend Seth Jones he offered a more colorful protest. "The
Yankees will make the Southerners hewers of wood and drawers of water for them," he
cautioned, adding with resignation that the lines had already been drawn, the North "will
20 Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1991), pp. 228-29; Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 959-
64.
Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., p. 1627.
21

74
be converted into a great workshop & the slave holding states will be compelled to pay
them tribute.""
On April 16, 1824, the House passed the new tariff, which retained its most
important protectionist features. Mangum joined the rest of the southerner delegation and
voted against the final version. However, alterations to the original draft quieted some of
Mangum's initial anxieties."’’ The day before President Monroe signed the bill into law.
Mangum confided to Jones, "the bill as passed is not exceedingly objectionable, instead
of being a law for the protection of Domestic Manufacturers, it is a revenue bill - It was
gutted in the Senate."24 He was wrong. The Tariff of 1824 was a protective tariff, with
duties on most raw materials remaining as high as when first proposed.25
Little of what Mangum said or did during his first term in Washington was
captured in the official records. Except for an occasional vote or brief remark, Mangum
was a silent participant. His forte was watching and listening to those around him as they
went about the business of governing. An eager student of power politics, Mangum
learned that one of the first responsibilities of a new congressman was to bolster the good
will of those who had sent him to Washington. Patronage seemed the most direct way to
achieve that end; favorable relations with the press back at home was another. Sometimes
22 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:116.
2’ Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., p. 2675, appendix, pp. 3221-3228;
Remini, Henry Clay, pp. 232.
24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:146.
25 Remini, Henry Clay, p. 233.

75
he found he could combine the two tactics by establishing postal routes in his district that
would be used to carry newspapers to more people. On December 15, 1823, Mangum
reminded Thomas D. Bennehan, the brother-in-law of Duncan Cameron, of an already
agreed upon plan to establish a 48 mile postal route extending from Raleigh to Roxborough
via Fish Dam and Staggville. Mangum urged his friend to start a petition drive in support
of the "Fish Dam" road so that he could present the idea to the House. In January,
Mangum's neighbor and kinsman, John J. Carrington, described the project in politically
expedient language. A new route, he implied, might extend the reach of Mangum's
influence into the remote parts of Wake and Person Counties. Voters there would gain
access to pro-Mangum literature. That February Mangum submitted to the House a
proposed postal route that covered the same ground suggested in his letter to Bennehan.26
Residents of the Eighth Congressional District, like most people in North Carolina,
obtained the bulk of their political information from broadsides and pamphlets. Ordinarily
printed on a single sheet of paper, they were often reproduced in newspapers or distributed
through the mail or by hand. Evidently, Mangum did not use his franking privileges to
deliver this material when he first came to Washington. Later, after he had mastered the
finer points of political management and organization, he used the entitlement regularly.
Newspapers carried little information of local interest. Usually published weekly,
periodicals tended to ignore the events taking place in their immediate vicinity, preferring
:h Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 798, 1627, 2654, 2659-60;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:88-89, 104-105; Raleigh Register. 20
February 1824.

76
instead to print fiction, poetry, and national news.27 An avid newspaper reader himself,
Mangum regarded the local weekly as an excellent source of intelligence. Accordingly,
he made common cause with newspaper publisher Dennis Heartt shortly before he took his
seat in Congress. Keeping with common practice, Mangum volunteered to serve as an
unofficial correspondent to Heartt's Hillsborough Recorder. On January 31, 1824, Heartt
recalled to Mangum, "You must not forget your promise to furnish me with scraps of
information as may fall within your observation."28 Despite their differences over the
coming presidential election — Mangum supported William H. Crawford, Heartt preferred
John Quincy Adams - the two got along well. In time Mangum and Heartt would see eye-
to-eye on the major political issues of the day, as Heartt became one of Mangum's most
trusted and valued allies. Priestly Mangum later captured the spirit of the relationship
when he jokingly referred to Heartt as "your little Irishman" in a letter to his brother. The
use of the diminutive indicates personal intimacy while the possessive suggests a degree
of influence.29
The presidential election of 1824 supplied Mangum with enough "scraps of
information" to satisfy his publisher friend or anyone else who cared to listen. The
congressman became a conduit for his friends and associates in North Carolina, feeding
2 John Chalmers Vinson, "Electioneering in North Carolina, 1800-1835," North
Carolina Historical Review 29 (1952): 175-76.
28 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:112.
29 Ibid, 1:164; Albert R. Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824 in North
Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), pp. 59, 143.

77
them details and offering his own observations and insights. His correspondence during
these first months revealed that presidential politics had a profound effect on elected
officials. Since his arrival in December fhey seemed to talk of little else. The
machinations of Mangum and his colleagues also expose the undemocratic nature of the
nominating process. Power brokers in Washington fought each other for months to win
the right to name a successor to the incumbent president. Four of the five hopefuls
mentioned in Mangum's first letters remained before the public through the November
election. Public men presented the voters with a slate of candidates drawn from an elite
pool. Lower echelon figures like Mangum conveyed the will of the caucuses, the factions,
and the various state machines to the leaders in their respective home states and together
they labored to lend the process an air of democracy.
Mangum came to Washington pledged to support Secretary of the Treasury William
H. Crawford of Georgia for the presidency. The contest had been an issue in his race with
Barringer, and Mangum stood firmly behind the Georgian throughout. Of the five
candidates who remained in the running in December 1823, Mangum believed that only
Crawford possessed the states rights credentials essential to winning a majority of North
Carolina voters. He perceived the other four — Clay, Calhoun, Adams, and Andrew
Jackson — as nationalists. In Raleigh the Crawfordites secured their control of the General
Assembly with the reelection of Bartlett Yancey to the post of Speaker of the Senate. In
Commons, Robert Strange, another member of the pro-Crawford faction, completed the
coup with his election to the head of that body. On December 2, 1823, the organization
flexed its muscle by awarding Joseph Gales & Son, publishers of the Raleigh Register, the

78
state's leading pro-Crawford organ, the lucrative public printing contract. Nathaniel
Macon led the pro-Crawford Tar Heels in Washington. Strict constructionists and
proponents of thrifty government from across North Carolina rallied behind the Georgian
to become the dominant faction in the state. On December 24, 1823. their elected
representatives held a caucus in the senate chamber and nominated Crawford for the
presidency. Before adjourning, they named a seven-member committee of correspondence
and began organizing their campaign.30
William Harris Crawford had been a front-runner in the race to succeed Monroe
since about 1820. In 1816 he had polled a close second to the eventual nominee at that
year's Congressional caucus. As Monroe's Secretary of the Treasury he commanded vast
reserves of patronage. He used this prerogative to build a loyal following of officeholders
and political appointees. Among the populace, however, his appeal was confined to the
South and New York State. Especially popular with the older states rights Jeffersonians,
the fifty-one year old Crawford opposed protective tariffs and federally funded internal
improvements. Among the heirs to Federalism in North Carolina. Mangum was unique
30 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:101, 105; McFarland, "Rip Van
Winkle," pp. 143-45; William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1958), p. 3; James F. Hopkins,
"Election of 1824," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred F. Israel, and William P. Hansen,
eds.. History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea
House Publishers, 1971), 1:374; Richard P. McCormick, The Second Party System: Party
Formation in the Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1966),
pp. 202-03; Newsome, The Presidential Flection of 1824. p. 62, 102-03; Thomas E.
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861 (Athens: The
University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 21.

79
in his support for Crawford.31 Of all the candidates, Mangum thought Crawford a
"sounder constitutionalist" than his opponents, one who promised an administration
"marked with economy & . . . rigid accountability.'02
Handicapped by reports of failing health, his association with the unpopular
congressional caucus, and the uninspired choice of Albert Gallatin as a running mate,
Crawford faced an uphill battle in North Carolina. The rise of Andrew Jackson provided
a fatal blow to the state's already moribund Crawford movement. Throughout the
campaign, Mangum struggled to preserve the Crawford coalition. In September 1823.
the Georgian suffered a debilitating stroke, leaving him partially blind and bedridden. The
candidate's health disheartened his followers, but they still refused to disclose the full
extent of his illness to the public.3'1 At first Mangum conveyed a sense of pessimism about
Crawford's condition. He "is very ill," Mangum wrote in December, ”[and| tho [sic] his
physicians pronounce him out of danger, yet many entertain doubts of his recovery."’4
One month later he evidenced more optimism. While still very sick and sequestered in a
darkened room with his eyes bandaged, Crawford's convalescence was proving beneficial.
31Richard P. McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American
Presidential Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 124; McFarland.
"Rip Van Winkle," p. 140: Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:351-52, 359, 367; Wagstaff.
State Rights and Political Parties, p. 45; James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists.
1800-1816 (Baton Rouge; Louisiana State University Press, 1978), 191-92.
32 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:116.
33 Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824. pp. 106-07; Hopkins, "Election of
1824," 1:367.
34 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 1:89.

80
Despite Mangum's repeated assurances that he was on the mend, the candidates’s health
remained an issue. As the others entertained their supporters at lavish dinner parties and
elegant balls, Crawford remained conspicuously absent from the affairs that marked an
election year.'5
Mangum also had to refute rumors circulating about his own loyalties. Apparently,
his abundantly-detailed accounts of affairs in Congress had left some of his friends
wondering whom he supported. On January 12, 1824, John Carrington wrote Mangum,
"You said a good deal about the Presidential Election and I thought you appeared
something wandering and did not know well which side to take."Jh Less wary, Seth Jones
inquired, "I should like (as your friend) to know if you have changed your mind & if so
your reasons, & who you are for now."3 Mangum reacted quickly and without
equivocation. "I have only to say," he responded, "that [the rumors are) wholly without
foundation." As if to further placate their suspicions, Mangum added that he had never
been more certain that "the best interests of this country require the elevation of Mr.
Crawford to the presidential chair."35 The source of these rumors remains unknown. The
fact that they surfaced shortly before a pro-Crawford congressional caucus was scheduled
to meet in Washington may provide a clue as to why they started.
35 Ibid., 1:109, 115.
36 Ibid., 1:105.
37 Ibid., 1:101.
38
Ibid., 1:115.

81
An avowed opponent of caucuses, Mangum had made it clear that he would not
attend the February 14 assemblage. Dismissed as relics of a bygone era, congressional
caucuses as nominating bodies had come under attack in recent years. A public informed
by antiparty ideals would no longer tolerate closed-door, elite-dominated mechanisms like
the caucus. Three state legislatures expressed formal disapproval of the caucus: Five states
sent only one representative to the gathering, and ten refused to take any part at all. Six
of the fifteen members of the North Carolina delegation in Washington, including Senators
John Branch and Nathaniel Macon, declined participation. Aware that Crawford's men
controlled the meeting from the onset, his opponents tried to prevent the event from taking
place. Failing that, supporters of Jackson, Adams, and Clay, chose to boycott the caucus.
On February 14, 1824, sixty-eight delegates assembled to select their nominee.
Confronting only token opposition, the Crawford forces easily won the day. The session
named Albert Gallatin to the second spot and dissolved without a platform. ’9
Mangum played to popular prejudices with his condemnation of the caucus.
Although committed to the candidate endorsed by the caucus and working with some of
the most well-organized factions in the country, he continued to portray himself as an
antiparty populist. The image pleased a large segment of his constituency. To William
39 The final vote of the caucus delegates went as follows, William Crawford, 64; John
Quincy Adams, 2; Andrew Jackson, 1; Nathaniel Macon, 1; Raleigh Register. 27
February 1824; Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:115-16; Richard Hofstadter,
The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States. 1780-
1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), p. 252; Hopkins, "Election of
1824,” 1:360, 368-70, 374; Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824. p. 82;
McCormick, The Presidential Game, pp. 5, 118-19, 133.

82
Haywood the caucus was nothing less than a "breach in our constitution."40 John F.
Brevard of Lincoln County, North Carolina, informed Mangum that "the publick 1 sic 1
sentiment (regarding the caucus] ... is universally reprebate [sic]." His state, he
continued, was free from "that spirit of organised [sic] faction which exhibits itself so
thoroughly in the state of New York, & in Virginia."41 In fact, Mangum and his partners
in the pro-Crawford faction in North Carolina worked closely with Martin Van Burén and
William Marcy, two members of New York's powerful Albany Regency.42 On March 6,
1824, the Carolina Sentinel commended Mangum and the five other North Carolinians
"who refused to misrepresent the sentiments of their constituents, or to give countenance
to dictation and intrigue, by attending the Radical caucus at Washington.1,43 While he
warmly supported William Crawford, Mangum was not entirely happy with the outcome
of the caucus. He thought Albert Gallatin a poor choice for the second spot. The Swiss-
born, former Secretary of the Treasury. Mangum told Romulus Saunders, would not run
well in North Carolina. Gallatin himself agreed and in September withdrew from the
ticket.44
40 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:137.
41 Ibid., 1:123.
42 Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System, p. 252.
4j Carolina Sentinel (New Bern), 6 March 1824.
44 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed., The Papers of Thomas Ruffin. 4 vols. (Raleigh:
Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 1:296; Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:370.

83
Before Andrew Jackson emerged as a major contender, John C. Calhoun had been
Crawford's strongest challenger for the hearts and minds of North Carolina. In addition
to the five above named individuals, the original cast of presidential aspirants included
DeWitt Clinton of New York and William Lowndes of South Carolina. In October 1823
Lowndes died, leaving South Carolina with only one favorite son.45 As a backer of
Crawford, Mangum worried little about the threat posed by Calhoun. "Mr. Calhoun
cannot get more than [South] Carolina & New Jersey unless his prospects shall materially
change," he predicted. "Even if he should get [North Carolina], which 1 cannot for a
moment believe, still the vote would be thrown away.'"46 Mangum's main objection to
both Calhoun and Henry Clay was their nationalism. He imagined with dread the
extravagance both would bring to the Oval Office. "I have felt alarm," he wrote, "at the
splendor & profuse policy that 1 think would characterize the administration of either Clay
or Calhoun."4’ Most North Carolinians shared Mangum's suspicion of Calhoun and his
costly programs.48
Clay's spendthrift nationalism was not the only thing Mangum found objectionable
about the Kentuckian. As Speaker of the House, Clay had recast the office into one of
45 Hopkins, "Election of 1824,” 1:350-51, 361-363.
46 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:116.
47 Ibid.
48 Newsome. The Presidential Election of 1824. p. 129.

84
unrivaled power.49 Such a concentration of authority struck Mangum as anathema to
democracy. He thought Clay would use his considerable influence to affect the outcome
of the next presidential contest. If the November election concluded without one candidate
garnering a majority of the electoral votes then the House of Representatives would choose
a new president from one of the three top vote-getters. As the election drew nearer
Mangum began to see this turn of events as a distinct possibility. On February 11, 1824,
he wrote "unless the caucus shall produce considerable effect I am satisfied that an election
cannot be made by the people and will ultimately come to the House of Representatives."
After summarizing the regional strengths of each of the leading candidates, Mangum
added, "if Mr. Clay gets into the H. of R. the American people need not be surprised if
he is made president." His state-by-state analysis provides evidence that Mangum had
become an astute observer of political trends around the nation. The accuracy of his early
prognostication, however, was compromised by the withdrawal of John Calhoun later that
Spring.50
So much of Calhoun's political fortunes hinged on his ability to win votes outside
the South. He hoped to gain much needed support in the heavily-populated middle
Atlantic states, notably Pennsylvania and New Jersey. His backers there assured him that
they could deliver the votes. All hope evaporated in March 1824 when the Pennsylvania
49 George B. Galloway, History of the House of Representatives. 2nd. edition, revised
by Sidney Wise (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976), p. Ill; Steven S.
Smith and Christopher J. Deering, Committees in Congress (Washington, D.C.:
Congressional Quarterly Press, 1984), pp. 14-15.
50 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:116.

85
state convention nominated Andrew Jackson for the presidency with only one dissenting
vote. Sensing his declining fortunes, Calhoun decided to throw his considerable weight
behind the candidacy of the General. The new alliance immediately became a force in
North Carolina, where Calhoun now moved from the first to the second spot on what his
supporters there had labeled "the Peoples Ticket." The real contest in North Carolina
featured Jackson against Crawford, for neither Clay nor Secretary of State John Quincy
Adams, the other two remaining contestants, appealed to the states rights conservatives
who dominated the Old North State.51
Crawford and Jackson's personal animosity toward one another gave the campaign
an added dimension. In an election centered on personalities rather than issues, problems
of political economy were superceded by differences of character. William Crawford
challenged the legality of the General's incursions into Spanish Florida and renounced as
unjust the treaties he had negotiated with native American tribes in the Southeast.52
Mangum never mentioned any of Jackson's indiscretions when he spoke of the General.
His silence possibly grew from his unwillingness to alienate the growing legion of
Jacksonians in North Carolina. In April 1824, word of Jackson's popularity back home
crossed Mangum's desk in Washington. Priestly informed his brother of Jackson's appeal
with folks in the western part of the state who sang his praises at every public event.
51 Hopkins, "Election of 1824," 1:366-67, 374; Newsome, The Presidential Election
of 1824. pp. 83-85, 100-01.
52 McCormick, The Presidential Game, p. 5; Charles Grier Sellers, Jr., "Jackson Men
With Feet of Clay," American Historical Review 62 (1957):538.

86
William H. Haywood told a similar tale. On April 17, he declared, "I am fully satisfied
that without a great revolution in the public sentiment of this state that Geni. Jackson will
be the favorite for the next presidency."53 For his part, Mangum voiced qualified approval
for the hero of New Orleans. "Gen. Jackson with all my objections to him," he wrote
half-heartedly, ”1 should prefer to Mr. Calhoun."54
Jackson's reputation was not the only one stained by an unscrupulous opposition.
In a campaign rife with dirty tricks, every candidate fell prey to unsubstantiated rumors
leveled by unnamed individuals using dubious evidence. Congressman Jonathan Russell
of Massachusetts, for example, falsified letters in an attempt to discredit John Quincy
Adams with voters in the western states. Only the intervention of President Monroe, who
confirmed that the documents in question had been altered, silenced reports that the
Secretary of State had been willing to grant Great Britain unlimited navigation rights along
the Mississippi River as part of the Treaty of Ghent. In January 1823, a pro-Calhoun
newspaper based in Washington, D.C. printed the first in a series of letters implicating
Crawford in a minor scandal. Writing under the alias "A.B.," Illinois Senator Ninian
Edwards claimed that the Secretary had misused government funds during the Panic of
1819 and later withheld information from Congress in order to conceal his complicity in
53 Quote from, Shanks, The Papers of Willie P Mangum. 1:137; See also, ibid., 1:134,
139.
54
Ibid., 1:116.

87
the affair.55 In a scene rarely witnessed on the floor of the House, the normally taciturn
Mangum spoke out in defense of the Secretary. He called for an inquiry, proclaiming
Crawford's innocence all the while. Late in May 1824, a special investigative committee
vindicated the young congressman when it exonerated Crawford.56 Events had left
Mangum disenchanted and jaded. Reflecting on the episode in a letter to his friend Seth
Jones, he wrote "Crawford has to contend against the most powerful combination & 1 fear
as unprincipled as powerful." Still hopeful, however, he closed with his oft repeated
prediction that Crawford would win in November. As for Ninian Edwards, the erstwhile
Judge seemed to concur with his friend John Randolph, who said that the perjurer should
have his ears lopped off.57
The Ninian Edwards affair prolonged an already drawn out session and delayed
Mangum's return to Red Mountain. Afflicted with the same homesickness he had known
on the judicial circuit, Mangum's enthusiasm for Washington diminished with each passing
month. By March 14, 1824 he had lost interest in the city’s gay nightlife, telling his wife
that he would forego social events altogether if he could do so without appearing rude or
asocial. Cold winter evenings and poorly-ventilated rooms conspired to impair Mangum's
health.58 The birth of his first child, Sallie Alston Mangum. only intensified his yearning
55Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1971), pp. 505-07, 512-513; Hopkins, "Election of 1824,” 1:365;
McCormick, The Presidential Game, pp. 124-25.
56 Annals of the Congress. 18th Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 2654-2660, 2713-2725.
57 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:146.
58
Ibid., 1:124.

88
to get back home. Born January 6, 1824, she instantly became a source of pride and
concern for both her parents who wrote lovingly of her in all their letters.59 Describing
the newborn to her absent husband. Charity Mangum joked, "she has a beautiful little head
& her hair is very like her father’s, |only] thicker on the top."60 From his lodgings in the
capital, the new father could only sit and wonder what his baby daughter was like. Lonely
and eager to learn as much as he could about the girl, Mangum pumped his wife for
details: "Can she talk? Does she seem conscious and observing? Does she seem to know
that she has gotten into a very naughty world? Does she know where her Pa is?" So far
removed from home, he had to rely on second-hand descriptions and his own
preconceptions to form an imperfect impression of her. "I am afraid she is like too many
young ladies," he imagined of Sallie, "giddy & unthinking."61
The first session of the eighteenth Congress ended shortly after it had concluded
closed-door hearings on the Ninian Edwards affair. Mangum, along with most partisans
in Washington, immediately set off for home to help run the last leg of the presidential
race. Following a joyous reunion with his family, the congressman set out for the
hustings. His new status gave him an air of dignity and credibility that others wished to
exploit. Crawford organizers in the state enlisted multiple speakers at a single venue.
Priestly H. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 14 January 1824, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 1:103-04.
60 Charity A. Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 2 February 1824, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:125.
61

89
believing that the public would be more likely to accept a message delivered by more than
one person. During the late summer and early autumn Mangum shared the stump with
Thomas Ruffin and many other Crawfordites native to his district. He also campaigned
through the mails, urging his friends and associates to get out the vote for Crawford.62
Despite their best efforts, the Crawford forces in North Carolina failed to deliver
their state's fifteen electoral votes in the November election. Instead, supporters of
Jackson's "People's Ticket," a combination of former Federalist and anti-caucus
Republicans, carried the day. Jackson’s victory heralded the breakdown of both
Republican solidarity and eastern-dominated politics in North Carolina. The new coalition
comprised elements that had once been at odds with one another. Counties along the
Albemarle Sound in the east combined with western counties to create a formidable
alliance against the powerful plantation districts of the middle-eastern portion of the state.
Mangum's home county of Orange gave the General a slight majority of forty-seven votes,
putting his chances for reelection in 1825 in jeopardy. Jackson's edge in the statewide
tally was considerably more authoritative. Polling 20,415 popular votes, he easily
outdistanced his closest rival William Crawford, who took in 15,621 of the 36.036 total
votes cast.6'
62 Hamilton, The Papers of Thomas Ruffin. 1:311-12; Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 1:153-54.
63 Hopkins, "Election of 1824,” 1:371, 374, 409; Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics, pp. 29-30; Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), p. 18; Williams, "The
Foundations of the Whig Party in North Carolina," p. 116; McCormick, The Second Party
System, p. 203; Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824. pp. 156, 161.

90
In the national contest, Jackson captured more electoral votes than his three rivals
but failed to win the amount needed to take the election. As a result, the contest was
thrown into the House of Representatives where each state delegation had one vote. In
December 1824, the second session of the eighteenth Congress met in Washington and
immediately set about deciding the unfinished contest. Once again, "the presidential
question" took center stage in American politics. Contrary to the leanings of the
electorate, most of the North Carolina contingent remained steadfastly committed to
William Crawford. In spite of having served only a single term in Congress, Mangum
stepped forward as a leader of his state's pro-Crawford forces. Romulus Saunders shared
the responsibility of marshaling this faction behind the Georgian. In mid-December 1824,
Mangum felt that Jackson stood the best chance of winning in the House, but vowed to his
friends in North Carolina that Jackson would not get his vote. He could not speculate
about the outcome with a great deal of confidence because he did not know who Henry
Clay would support. Mangum suspected that Clay, whose last place showing in November
had disqualified him from the House election, would prove to be the wildcard. Whomever
the Speaker chose to back, Mangum guessed, would win.64
Mangum's seemingly innocuous observation that Andrew Jackson appeared to be
the strongest contender soon came back to haunt him. By the time his prediction had
reached Bartlett Yancey in Raleigh, it had been reworded so as to suggest that Mangum
had changed his loyalties and now stood behind Andrew Jackson. Nothing could be more
64 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:160; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and
North Carolina Politics, p. 7.

91
absurd, Mangum reassured Yancey in a letter written on Christmas Day, 1824. He
continued to hold out the possibility, however, that the North Carolina delegation might
try to use its vote as a bargaining chip if Crawford's chances began to appear hopeless.
Conversations with representatives from around the country led Mangum to believe that
Jackson was fading and that Adams had taken his place at the front of the pack.65 Writing
from his father-in-law's home near Wake Forest, North Carolina, Priestly Mangum
thought Jackson's chances remained very good. He shared his brother's concern that as
a military figure Jackson would be inclined to dictate, rather than respond to "the popular
impulse of the nation." Neither brother had much respect for Jackson or the people who
placed their faith in him.66
With the new year came a renewed hope that Crawford could win the election. As
Adams gained momentum the potential for a deadlocked House grew more likely. If that
were to happen, Mangum wrote an ally in Wake County, Crawford would emerge as the
compromise choice. Still, he cautioned. Clay's refusal to make clear his intentions left the
outcome as uncertain as ever.67 Mangum also confessed his perplexity to Duncan
Cameron. Few if any officials, he stated, know what will happen next. "Clay certainly
holds in his hands the vote[s] of 5 states," he wrote Cameron, suspecting that the Speaker
would turn them over to Adams. These intrigues bothered Mangum, who complained.
65 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:160-161.
66 Ibid., 1:164.
67
Ibid., 1:169-70.

92
"our notions of patriotism become quite low, when we see gentlemen occupying so much
space in the public mind as Mr. Clay regulated by no higher considerations." Equally
troubling to Mangum was the thought that powerful, calculating men, cloistered from the
rest of society, would decide who led "the purest government that ever existed on the face
of the earth."68 Yet for all his misgivings, Mangum continued to promote the candidacy
of the man who finished third in the popular election.
On February 3 and 7, 1824, Mangum delivered his first major address before the
House of Representatives. In it he outlined the reasons why the House should ignore the
will of the people and elect Crawford. He began by saying that the framers of the
Constitution did not intend for the House vote to be a mere reflection of the popular vote.
If such were the case, he asked rhetorically, why then should the House have any say in
the matter at all? Positing several hypothetical examples, he went on to prove that
members of the House must, on occasion, vote their own principles even when they ran
counter to those of the people who elected them. The practical considerations of choosing
one candidate from among the three weighed as heavily on Mangum's mind as did the
question of his moral duty. What if, he posed, each of the three men received the same
number of votes and the balloting ended with a tie? If bound by sacred principle, as some
of his colleagues had insisted, then the members could not change their votes and the
House would never be able to elect a president. The people had had their opportunity to
act as a "primary assembly," he argued, when they cast their ballots in November. They
68
Ibid., 1:173-74.

93
failed to reach a decision, so it had fallen upon the House to act. "Sir, a majority of the
people have distinctly told you that not even their favorite candidate is the man of their
wishes, [therefore] it is we who must elect."69
What should dictate their course, Mangum wondered? "Is it to obey the voice of
our states? Or is it to obey the voice of our districts? It is in my judgement neither more
nor less than this - To do what is right, according to the best dictates of our own
understandings, and leave the consequences to God, and to our country."70 The right thing
to do, in Mangum's opinion, was to vote for the most able of the three men, in this case
William Crawford. Citing The Federalist Papers. Mangum argued that elected officials
need not always heed the demands of their constituency. In a skillful display of
legerdemain, the strict constructionist now suggested that representatives ought, from time
to time, oblige the "philosophy" of the constitution rather than the letter of the law. He
insisted that the framers had created a representative, not a plebiscitary democracy, and
in such a government officials had to be trusted to act honorably. Only then, Mangum
said, could they return to their districts knowing that they had done what was best for their
fellow citizens, even if those same people disagreed with their actions. To be sure,
Mangum advocated a limited form of democracy, one that endured popular participation
to a point. After that, a civic-minded elite had to be given the reigns of power. He
59 Mangum's two day speech can be found in, U.S. Congress, Register of Debates in
Congress. 18th Cong., 2nd. sess., pp. 455-61, 491-93; This speech has been reprinted in.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:487-500; for quote see, ibid., 5:494.
70 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:494.

94
condemned populists as "flatterers" who twisted in the wind of public opinion. "I would
not look to the shouts of the multitude for the opinions of the people," he remarked,
implying that the men gathered in the chamber with him were in fact, according to the
framers of the constitution, "the people."71
Mangum's conviction that he embodied the collective will of his district was
reinforced by fellow Tar Heels who regarded him as their eyes and ears in Washington.
"We are looking to you for light & knowledge." William Ruffin wrote shortly before the
House made its final determination. : Unfortunately, Mangum could say little that would
please his friends. Three days before the vote he informed his wife that all was lost. "Mr.
Crawford will be beaten," he wrote, predicting, "Mr. Adams I have no doubt will be
elected."7. He was correct. On February 9, 1825, the House selected John Quincy Adams
on the first ballot. As expected. North Carolina cast its vote for Crawford. Mangum and
nine other members of the state delegation chose the Secretary, while two selected Jackson
and one picked Adams. 4 Back in North Carolina the delegation faced criticism from the
pro-Jackson press. Philo White, editor of the Salisbury Western Carolinian, condemned
"our members of Congress [who] voted for Crawford in contempt of their constituents."75
71 Ibid., 5:495-500.
72 Ibid., 1:185.
73 Ibid., 1:187.
4 Newsome, The Presidential Election of 1824. pp. 170; Hopkins, "Election of 1824,"
1:380.
75 Western Carolinian (Salisbury). 1 March 1825.

95
Having already decided to seek reelection, Mangum would now have to test the lofty
principles he had expressed on the floor of the House in the arena of public opinion.
The loss exacerbated Mangum's already acute frustration with national affairs. In
January he commented on what he saw as the inability of Congress to do anything
meaningful. "Congress has not done much yet, nor do 1 think that much important
legislation will be done this winter." Happily, he could report a reduction in the national
debt and an increase in the size of "the gallant little navy." A ceaseless campaigner, he
was quick to attribute the fiscal good fortune to the deft leadership of the Secretary of the
Treasury, William Crawford.76 Public business, however, was no longer his foremost
concern. When Mangum learned that his daughter Sallie was seriously ill, he began to
think that he would never see her again and that his wife would exhaust herself trying to
care for the child. Compounding his distress, the inhospitable climate in the nation's
capital had once again taken its toll on Mangum's health. Fatigued by illness and concern
for Sallie, he began to prepare for his departure. Shortly after the February election he
started off on his long-awaited journey homeward.77
76 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:170-71.
77 Ibid., 1:186-87, 191-92.

CHAPTER 4
RELUCTANT JACKSONIAN
As the first congressional session of the John Quincy Adams administration drew
to a close, Willie Mangum was discouraged. "The Administration [is] both weak &
wicked," he reported to his wife Charity. "The present prospect is that the members of
the Congress from the south of Washington will unite to put down Adams, & if they can
get no better, they will take up Gen. Jackson for that purpose."1 Unknowingly, Mangum
had expressed the sentiments of a generation of southerners who would later form the core
of the Whig Party in that region. William Crawford's defeat in 1824 had left politicians
like Mangum rudderless. Seething over the so-called "corrupt bargain" between Adams
and Henry Clay and alienated by their nationalist policies, opponents turned, reluctantly,
to Andrew Jackson as the lesser of two evils. The fragile alliances of the mid-1820s were
based on personalities, and unless they identified themselves with one of the major
presidential contenders, Mangum and other like-minded southerners had no chance of
electoral success. A marriage of convenience, the union proved tumultuous and short¬
lived. It did, however, provide political leaders with an easy frame of reference and
rallying point that carried them through a period of transition. Before long, new parties
1 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 1:268.
96

97
founded on issues and employing modern organizational techniques replaced factions
rooted in personalities. Until then, Jackson would serve a useful purpose.2
After guiding his state delegation into the Crawford fold in the February 1825
House election, a weary Mangum returned to Red Mountain. Shortly thereafter, his
daughter Sallie recovered her health, allowing her father to focus his full attention on
professional matters. Even before leaving the capital Mangum had arranged to revive his
legal practice and did so that summer. Plantation business also monopolized much of his
time. His primary concern, however, was his plan for reelection to the House. As early
as January 7, 1825, Mangum's friend and advisor Seth Jones had narrowed the list of
Mangum's possible opponents to a single name, Josiah Crudup. Jones assured the
incumbent that he need not worry, that he could beat anyone in the district. Mangum
knew better. Crudup, a Baptist minister and former congressman, would be a worthy
challenger. Recalling the race years later, Mangum described it as the most exciting of
his long career.3
In contrast to Jones’ upbeat analysis, Mangum's former tutor John Chavis offered
the congressman a more realistic appraisal. On January 28, 1825, he warned Mangum that
2 Charles Grier Sellers, Jr., "Jackson Men with Feet of Clay," American Historical
Review 62 (1957), p. 551; Richard P. McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origin
of American Presidential Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 121-22,
126; Ronald P. Formisano, The Transformation of Political Culture; Massachusetts
Parties. 1790s-1840s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 17; Thomas E.
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861 (Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 33.
3 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:171-72, 187-88; 5:434.

98
his continued support for William Crawford could cost him votes, especially in Wake
County, where both Andrew Jackson and Josiah Crudup enjoyed substantial support.4
Chavis spoke with authority, sensing, as he did, the groundswell of popular sentiment
against Andrew Jackson's congressional opponents in the February election. Nevertheless,
Mangum refused to reject Crawford. He understood, of course, that while rank and file
North Carolinians were infatuated with the General, important elements among the elite
remained wary. As a result, Mangum could expect the support of some influential
backers. In March 1825, the Raleigh Register praised Mangum as a loyal public servant
and, in effect, endorsed him for a second term. One of the state's leading newspapers, the
Register noted that Mangum had served the state "both honorably, and advantageously."
The editor appreciated his effort to secure postal routes and other scraps of patronage, and
applauded his renunciation of protective tariffs as keeping with the states rights traditions
of North Carolina. During his first term in Congress, Mangum had ingratiated himself to
the local press. Always ready to send bits of news from Washington, he used his position
as an unofficial correspondent to keep his name before the public. Frequent visits to
Raleigh, often timed to coincide with the beginning of each legislative session, won
Mangum warm adherents in the state government as well.5
4 Ibid., 1:184.
5 Raleigh Register. 25 March 1825; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:202;
Penelope McDuffie, "Chapters in the Life of Willie Person Mangum," The Historical
Papers. Published by the Trinity College Historical Society (Durham: Duke University
Press, 1925), p. 29; William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1958), p. 14.

99
As with his first campaign for Congress, the 1825 contest found both candidates
answering accusations of misconduct and chicanery. The two contestants, according to
one circular, had agreed to "publish nothing to effect each other's election, directly or
indirectly" and to cease making separate campaign appearances.h When one pro-Mangum
partisan, writing in the Raleigh Register under the pseudonym "Timoleon," attacked
Crudup, the preacher's friends responded in kind.7 Echoing the rhetoric and actions of
two years before, both politicians professed republican principles while engaging in
unrepublican behavior. Unlike the previous contest, however, each candidate maintained
a high degree of respect and admiration for the other. Crudup's oratorical skills equalled
those of Mangum. Witnesses reported seeing tears well in the eyes of each man as he
made emotional appeals to the multitudes who often found it impossible to restrain their
own emotions. Crudup had the added advantage of preaching political sermons to his
congregation every Sunday.
So charismatic was his opponent that Mangum began to doubt his own chances of
winning the election. According to Mangum family lore, a heavy rain that fell the
weekend prior to the election saved the incumbent from defeat. The torrent had so
severely flooded one stream that Crudup found himself stranded on the bank opposite the
site of their final debate. Rightly or wrongly, Mangum attributed his victory in 1825 to
6 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:193-95.
7 Raleigh Register. 5 August 1825.

100
the fact that Crudup had missed this final encounter." Whatever the reason, Mangum did
win, defeating Crudup by a mere 56 votes. He took a more substantial majority in Orange
County, capturing 1553 votes to Crudup's 716. Wake County, where Andrew Jackson
enjoyed a large following, gave most of its votes to Crudup. The narrow margin attests
to both the appeal of his opponent and the continued resentment that the voters of North
Carolina held out for all those who chose to back Crawford in the House election: Of the
ten who did, only five won reelection.9
An unusually long and arduous stagecoach ride brought Mangum back to
Washington, D.C. to begin his second term in Congress. Outwardly, the city appeared
much as it did the day he left. Behind the veneer, however, lay a new political order that
began taking shape shortly after John Quincy Adams had been elected President. When
Adams announced that Henry Clay would serve as his Secretary of State, many supporters
of Jackson, Crawford, and John C. Calhoun cried foul. Early in 1825, before the House
of Representatives had chosen the new president, Adams and Clay, opponents charged,
had entered into a "corrupt bargain." According to the terms of their phantom contract.
Clay delivered his supporters to Adams in exchange for the first office in the cabinet.
Traditionally, the office of Secretary of State had been considered a stepping stone to the
8 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:434-35, 753; Raleigh Star. 21 June
1811.
' Mangum also won a majority of the votes in Person County; Raleigh Register. 19
August 1825; Western Carolinian (Salisbury), 23 August 1825; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 1:195, 204-205; Albert R. Newsome, The Presidential Election of
1824 in North Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), p. 172.

101
Presidency, so, in the words of their detractors, the two had conspired to pass down the
first office to Clay once Adams had finished his tenure. The charges were never proved,
but the "corrupt bargain" served as an effective rallying call for a new opposition coalition.
The various elements slowly coalesced, first at the state level and then in Washington.
With Jackson in Tennessee, the new Vice President, John C. Calhoun, took the lead of the
pro-Jackson contingent in the capital. Having suffered a stroke. William Crawford could
not prevent Martin Van Burén of New York from rising to the top of that faction. In time
the New Yorker, together with Thomas Ritchie's Richmond Junto, would join the ranks
of the Jacksonians. Willie Mangum and the other Crawford leaders in North Carolina
delayed their decision until certain of which group would emerge as the most potent threat
to the Adams administration.10
On December 6, 1825, the day after Mangum had settled into his rooms in the
capital, John Quincy Adams delivered his First Annual Message to Congress. In it he
outlined his agenda and defined the debate for the coming session. Adams advanced
proposals for internal improvement projects, a protective tariff, the establishment of a
national university and an "astronomical observatory," the distribution of the federal
surplus to the individual states, and a stable currency regulated by a healthy, centralized
10 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:209, 231, 237; Ralph Ketcham,
Presidents Above Party: The First American Presidency (Chapel Hill: The University of
North Carolina Press, 1984), p. 137; Robert V. Remini, "Election of 1828," in Arthur M.
Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P. Hansen, eds.. History of American
Presidential Electioas: 1789-1968. 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971),
1:415-17; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 12; James S. Chase,
Emergence of the Presidential Nominating Convention. 1789-1832 (Urbana: University
of Illinois Press, 1973), pp. 103-104.

102
banking system.11 In the opinion of strict constructionists like Mangum, these policies
exceeded the bounds of constitutional authority. A disciple of parsimonious government,
Mangum complained that they were also too expensive. Adams' speech solidified the
opposition, drawing in states rights elements from the pro-Crawford camp. Proponents
of Henry Clay's "American System," an activist political program similar to that advanced
by Adams, gravitated into the Adams-Clay camp. Former rank-and-file Federalists
generally approved of the speech; the leadership of the old party, for the most part, did
not. In general, southerners objected to an expansion of federal authority as implied in the
speech. Although not quite ready to commit to Jackson, Mangum did express his
dissatisfaction with the proposals. "The administration opens upon principles I cannot
approve," he confided to his wife, careful to qualify his disapproval by adding, "what may
be the future direction I cannot tell."12
Political differences with the new administration did not keep Mangum from
attending White House functions. In mid-December he enjoyed a "splendid levee" at the
presidential mansion, dining with Adams, whom he jokingly referred to as "John II."13
11 James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the
Presidents, 1789-1902 11 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1903-
1907), 2:299-317.
12 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:211; Remini, "Election of 1828,"
1:415; James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists. 1800-1816 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1978), p. 193; Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American
Development: from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1992), p. 257.
|J Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:234.

103
Giving equal attention to the opposition, he attended a dinner party at the home of Vice
President Calhoun. As the guests were leaving, Calhoun pulled Mangum aside and said,
"Mangum - Mangum do - do Sir call & see me frequently & spend your evenings with us -
without ceremony - Come Sir, we shall always be glad to see you." The young
congressman recognized these transparent entreaties as part and parcel of Calhoun's back-
slapping political style, one that he would later adopt himself. "Ah Sir! He knows a thing
or two," Mangum wrote admiringly of the Vice President, "It is in this way he sweeps the
young fellows."14 Mangum had come to appreciate the value of informal contacts.
Whether eating dinner at the home of Joseph Gales, the powerful editor of the National
Intelligencer, a foreign dignitary, or sharing a mess with Senator Nathaniel Macon and
other leading North Carolina politicians, Mangum was becoming a professional in the craft
of informal politics.15
Dinner with President Adams did not allay Mangum's suspicion that the
administration was founded on corruption. He had begun the session with an open mind,
waiting to see how Adams would conduct himself before committing himself to either of
the major factions. As tensions rose, Mangum sifted through the rhetoric to figure out
what was fact and what was fiction. For example, he could easily have dismissed the so-
called "corrupt bargain" as nothing more than partisan rancor, for he had had prior
knowledge of the negotiations that landed Clay the cabinet post and saw nothing wrong
14 Ibid.
15
Ibid., 1:209, 234-36.

104
with them at the time. In February 1825, shortly after Adams had won the House
election. Clay spoke with several of Crawford's friends, including Mangum, and asked if
they had any objections to him joining the new cabinet. On the contrary. Clay wrote,
Mangum and the others "expressed to me their strong convictions that I ought to accept."16
Clay had always impressed Mangum, who presumably felt that the Speaker would serve
the nation honorably in whatever position he occupied. Mangum soon changed his mind.17
Each encounter with the administration brought Mangum closer to the Jacksonians.
He confided to his friends that he had grown distrustful of the President and his first
officer. The tone of Adams' December 6 address to Congress verified Mangum's belief
that states-rights principles would suffer at the hands of the new President. After a
pleasant affair at the White House, he observed that Adams was "quite republican in his
manners," but could not help but feel that the President had something to hide.16 By
January 15, 1826, any hope Mangum may have had for an alliance with Adams and Clay
had vanished. He told Bartlett Yancey that "this administration, I verily believe, will be
conducted upon as corrupt principles, indeed more corrupt, than any that has preceded
it."19 Having now rejected Adams, Mangum appropriated what he knew to be the
inaccurate harangues of the President's enemies. Adams' penchant for dishonest behavior,
16 James F. Hopkins, et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Clay 9 vols. (Lexington: The
University of Kentucky Press, 1959-1988), 4:73-74.
17 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:231.
18 Ibid., 1:234.
19
Ibid., 1:231.

105
Mangum reasoned, could be attributed to his regional heritage. "I felt so indignant at the
miserably corrupted policy as I believed it of a yankee nation."20 Exactly how these
negative traits found their way into the soul of western-born Henry Clay, Mangum did not
say. He did state that the most grievous actions of the administration probably originated
with the Secretary of State. Baseless reports that Adams planned to back an amendment
that would rescind the three-fifths clause of the constitution in order to reduce the power
of the southern states did not surprise Mangum. An overly ambitious Henry Clay, he
suspected, was at the bottom of this divisive scheme. Although uncertain about Jackson's
political viability, Mangum felt that southerners were unwelcome in the Adams camp and
therefore had nowhere else to turn.21
The distribution of patronage also played a vital role in shaping the alliances of the
mid-1820s. In December, Yancey instructed Mangum to arrange a meeting between
himself and Clay to find out if "[Clay] & his friend [Adams] are really serious when they
say they wish to do something for our state."22 In fact, Adams had hoped to build a
constituency in the South by placing North Carolina’s William Gaston at the head of the
War Department. The intercession of Clay, who had another person in mind for the job,
prevented Gaston's appointment. By passing over Gaston, Adams and Clay made a serious
blunder. Not only had they alienated a powerful force in North Carolina politics, but they
21 Ibid., 1:233-34; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 10.
22 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:214.

106
enabled politicians like Mangum to use the patronage issue against the President.2'
Speaking out against an administration-backed bill that would have increased the size of
the federal judiciary, Mangum took a swipe at Adams and his use of the patronage.
"Another administration [has] raised up a new set of judges [in order] that patronage might
sprinkle its delicious mania on the west," he howled on the floor of the House.24 Not to
be outdone by his adversaries, however, Mangum labored long and hard to establish mail
routes in his state, secure diplomatic posts for his friends, and place young Tar Heels in
West Point.25
Daniel Webster's proposed Judiciary Bill provided the forum for Mangum's second
major address in Congress. On January 10, 1826, he denounced the measure, which
provided for one additional Justice and three more judicial circuits, in terms that reflected
his conservative states rights philosophy. In so doing he edged even closer to the
Jacksonians. Both pragmatism and principle dictated that Mangum oppose the measure.
Besides furnishing the President with more patronage, the Bill, which ultimately failed,
would have expanded the power of the federal government at the expense of the states.
Mangum based his opposition on his theory that the federal government would not stop
accruing power until it had consumed all those reserved for the states. Congress must act
24 Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, pp. 10, 14.
24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:517.
25 Ibid., 1:205-206, 212, 223, 283-84, 296.

107
"calmly" and "gradually," if at all. "Where shall we stop," he asked his colleagues,
convinced that they needed to stop with the Webster Bill.26
Mangum openly identified himself as a member of the opposition with his speech
against the Judiciary Bill. "I gave the administration a rap on the knuckles," he boasted
to his wife, "and as I was the first member of the Congress that had done it, it seemed for
a moment to open a beehive over my head - but none of them have yet stung me. "27 And
none would. Mangum had so neatly encapsulated the fears of his constituents that none
of his opponents in North Carolina dared touch him. His speech had phrased the debate
in the language of republicanism and states rights. A President willing to abuse his
authority, a central government poised to take power from the states — North Carolinians
saw such actions as threats to their liberties.28 Priestly Mangum informed his brother that
his speech had been warmly received back home. "Even your most dangerous and bitter
enemies are compelled either, to say nothing about it, or to speak in respectful terms of
it." As for the "rap on the knuckles," Priestly proposed a more severe punishment for
Adams and his friends. Of one Ohio Representative he wrote, "I felt as if a cane could
26 Ibid., 5:509, 516; The speech can be found in. United States Congress, Register of
Debates in Congress. 19th Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 931-44; The speech has been reprinted in.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:500-519.
27 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:229.
28 Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1991), p. 287.

108
have measured the capacity of his scull [sic]." "I can't help thinking," he added, "that the
cudgel is an excellent argument sometimes.1,29
Mangum's rejection of Adams left him yearning for a patron and a leader.
Between January and April 1826, the top Crawford men in North Carolina narrowed their
search for a suitable alternative. The primary consideration for men like Macon and
Yancey was bridging the gap between North and South. The candidate had to have
national appeal in order for their faction to succeed. In January, Yancey and Macon
thought DeWitt Clinton of New York would fit their needs. Mangum advised his seniors
that Clinton would have a hard time building a constituency in the South, and so the two
renewed their efforts. President Adams, Mangum believed, would easily win reelection
unless the opposition united behind a single candidate. For that reason he finally threw
his support behind Jackson. In April 1826, he made his intentions public. Like many in
the South, he was a reluctant convert. Jackson's flirtation with nationalism worried states
rights men. His egalitarianism troubled conservatives who hoped to keep a tight rein on
an unpredictable public. But he was immensely popular with the voters in North Carolina,
a ready-made constituency the leaders could not ignore. Finally, Jackson was a
slaveowner, and as such could be counted on to protect the interests of Southern planters.
29 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:262.
M Ibid., 1:233, 268; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 12;
Arthur C. Cole, The Whig Party in the South (Washington, D.C.: American Historical
Association, 1913), pp. 9-10; Chase, Emergence of the Presidential Nominating
Convention, p. 100; Max R. Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North
Carolina: A Synthesis and a Modest Proposal," North Carolina Historical Review 47
(1970), p. 117.

109
The new pro-Jackson faction in Congress tested its cohesion by frustrating Adams'
plan to send an American delegation to an international conference in Panama. Southern
politicians objected that blacks and mulattoes would be sent from the Latin countries
forcing the American delegates to acknowledge their social equality at the sessions.
Mangum played a minor role in the debate and joined with all but two of the North
Carolina delegation in opposing the initiative. Friends in North Carolina assured Mangum
that the people there appreciated his efforts.31 Having come out in favor of Jackson,
Mangum, who had long enjoyed the support of the political elite, now had the backing of
most of the voters in his state. He could sense their rising expectations and, perhaps in
an effort to avert disappointment, confessed to having little influence with the powers that
be. In truth, he continued to develop a network of personal contacts that provided him
access to the most powerful officials in Washington. A seemingly endless string of
parties, card games, and other social events enabled Mangum to extend his circle of
associates to newspaper publishers, their wives, and anyone else who graced the dance
floor or tried their luck at whist. Despite protestations to his wife, he could be found most
nights relaxing in the company of the high and mighty. Such an exhausting schedule could
explain why he often found himself bothered by minor ailments. By April, he had begun
to exhibit his characteristic restlessness. He had so tired of life in the capital that he
promised his wife he would vote to end the session at the earliest possible date. That he
31 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:244, 258, 274, 289; Hoffman, Andrew
Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 10; Edith Josephine Houston, "The Bank of the
United States and Willie P. Mangum," (M.A. thesis, Appalachian State Teachers College,
1960), p. 23.

110
did. Late in May 1826, congress adjourned and Mangum went home for some much
needed rest/2
The partisan intrigues of the last session had left Mangum both physically and
emotionally exhausted. Fed up with events and the people who drove them, he expressed
his discontent to his wife, writing, "everything here goes against my judgement."^ A
bloodless duel between Henry Clay and John Randolph only added to the circus-like
atmosphere. Once he returned to Red Mountain, Mangum removed himself from public
affairs. Meanwhile, the musters in and around Raleigh and Hillsborough went on without
him. His allies felt slighted by Mangum's continued absence. Long-time confidant and
friend Seth Jones chided him for staying away so long, but his words fell on deaf ears.
Unbeknownst to Jones, Mangum had made other career plans. On August 14, 1826,
Mangum let it be known that he wished to return to the bench and submitted a formal
entreaty to that effect. His straightforward request seemed to be a breach of professional
etiquette. Mangum later claimed that what he did was entirely above board and that his
rivals had acted in the same way. His aggressiveness did not seem to offend the state
Executive Council. It moved quickly, voting on the first ballot to recommend to Governor
Hutchins G. Burton that Mangum fill the position vacated by retiring Judge Frederick
12 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:267, 268, 274, 277.
33 Ibid., 1:268.

Nash. Burton, a friend of Mangum, gladly accepted their "advice and consent," and on
August 18, 1826 appointed him to the Superior Court of Law and Equity.34
The appointment sparked a controversy. Mangum had accepted the post before
resigning his seat in the House, leaving many in the state capital to wonder if he was
simply killing time before the next session of Congress. They may have been correct.
The power to elect judges rested with the General Assembly, which at the time of Nash's
retirement was in recess. Under state law, the Governor could name a temporary
replacement. Once the legislature reconvened it would then elect a permanent successor
to the outgoing judge. Although the press assumed that Mangum had resigned his seat in
Congress the moment he accepted the appointment, he had in fact held back his decision
until he could confer with his brother Priestly. What Mangum had hoped to learn remains
unclear, perhaps he wanted to get an idea of how the Assembly would vote in December.
Whatever his reasons, Mangum stalled until his brother could survey local opinion and
report back to him. On September 1, 1826, Priestly passed along his findings. If the
older Mangum entertained any hope of winning the vote in the General Assembly, Priestly
wrote, then he ought to resign his seat in the House at once.35 Still Mangum delayed,
hinting to his brother that he would eventually step down. One week later Priestly
~'4 Ibid., 1:274-75, 290, 297-98, 302-03; John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina
Government. 1585-1974: A Narrative and Statistical History (Raleigh: North Carolina
Department of the Secretary of State, 1975), pp. 361, 370; Raleigh Star. 25 August 1826.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:299; Raleigh Star. 25 August, 22
December 1826; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North
Carolina, 1815-1835," (Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 212-
13.

delivered a second, more urgent admonition. He let his brother know that both his friends
and enemies had begun to question his motives. Leaders in Raleigh, he warned, were
"intimating that you did not intend to resign at all, & that love of power or of gain, or
both, would be the cause."36 Mangum finally took his brother's advice and resigned from
Congress, but the damage had already been done. He now found himself defending his
name and reputation to men who had once trusted him without reservation/7
With his fate in the hands of a hostile legislature, Mangum left for Raleigh to
assume his judicial duties. On October 2, 1826, the Superior Court for Wake County
began its Fall term. Judge Mangum faced a varied docket of criminal cases, which he met
with dispatch. Freeman Goode, a free African-American accused of murdering a slave,
stood before Mangum that first week. After listening to all the arguments, he ruled that
Goode had acted in self-defense and set him free. Another "free man of color," Frederick
Matthews, was less fortunate. The Judge upheld the states's contention that Matthews had
committed assault with intent to kill and sentenced him to three months in prison plus two
days in the public stocks. For one convicted thief Mangum prescribed twenty-five lashes
across the back and imprisonment until the defendant paid the cost of his own prosecution.
After settling at least two more cases, Mangum set off for the next court in Franklin
County. On the way he stopped for a visit at the home of his brother Priestly. There he
became so sick that he had to discontinue his journey. As Mangum recuperated, the
36 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:300.
7 Raleigh Register. 22 September 1826.

113
newspapers reassured the public that he would soon be able to return to the bench.38 One
loyal supporter welcomed the news, writing, "the southern states . . . would loose |sic 1
one of their brightest. . . when they loose [sic] Willie P. Mangum." The Judge probably
would have liked to see more such men in the legislature as it convened in December to
decide his future.39
After completing some routine administrative matters, the General Assembly took
up the business of filling the two judicial vacancies that had come up since their last
meeting. The death of Judge John Paxton earlier that month had created the second
opening. Mangum guessed that Paxton's death would work against his own candidacy.
The fact that two posts needed to be filled meant that two regional factions could now unite
to oppose him. As the election approached, the new anti-Mangum coalition stepped up
its attack. They continued to criticize him for the lapse of time between his appointment
to the judgeship and his resignation from Congress. In addition, they argued that his
departure from the bench in 1820 attested to his unreliability. Mangum felt compelled to
answer the charges brought against him. despite his own suspicions that his chances for
election had been hopelessly compromised. Writing to Bartlett Yancey, he openly
acknowledged for the first time the financial distress that had led him to step down from
[, 6, 13, 20 October 1826; Raleigh Register. 6 October 1826.
39 Unknown to Wood James Hamlin, 14 October 1826, Wood James Hamlin Papers,
North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

114
the bench in 1820. Apparently, he was ready to risk public humiliation in order to hold
his seat.40
When the Assembly voted in early January 1827, Mangum found himself facing
a weII-coordinated opposition. On the first ballot members of the eastern wing succeeded
in electing Robert Strange of Fayetteville. Mangum finished a strong second but failed to
win enough votes to take the second spot. The next ballot again found Mangum in second
place, but this time his leading rival had been unable to win the majority needed to take
the remaining post. On the third and final ballot the opposition united behind James
Martin of Rowen County and defeated Mangum. As he predicted, elements from both the
east and west had joined together to thwart his election. The contest illustrates the
enduring strength of regional factions in the state. In time they would be replaced by
state-wide political parties founded on national issues. Men who had voted both for and
against Mangum that day would later work with him. For now, however, he would have
to bide his time as a private citizen.41
Removal from the bench not only humiliated Mangum, it also denied him a much
needed source of income. The money generated by the immediate resumption of his legal
practice did not stave off creditors. Financial problems that first appeared in 1820 reached
a crisis in 1827 and 1828. At first, he turned to his father-in-law, William Cain, Sr., for
40 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:299, 302-305; Raleigh Star. 22
December 1826.
41 Raleigh Register. 12 January 1827; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p. 213; Raleigh
Star. 5 January 1827.

115
help. Cain endorsed notes in excess of $1,700, but still Mangum languished in debt. His
troubles began when he assumed responsibility for his father's obligations. They were
compounded by imprudent land deals, his generous lending practices, and a taste for
expensive things. To maintain his reputation as a southern gentleman, Mangum adorned
himself with costly apparel and stocked his household with only the finest furniture.
Ironically, his reckless ways almost forced him to give up the style of living he so coveted.
Late in 1827 he gave serious thought to leaving his country estate to settle in Hillsborough,
where he thought he could make more money as a lawyer. Ultimately, he resisted the
temptation to try his luck elsewhere.42
In April 1828, Mangum turned over control of his estate to a pair of executors.
Doctor James Webb of Hillsborough and Thomas D. Watts, who served as both the sheriff
of Orange County and the town treasurer of Hillsborough, labored for more than a year
to put Mangum's finances in order. For the cost of one dollar, the two assumed most of
Mangum's assets and all of his liabilities. The terms of the indenture left Mangum the
house in which he and his family lived and little else. He empowered the two executors
to sell off any part of his 1,600 acre plantation and all of his other real estate holdings to
help satisfy the banks and private individuals to whom he owed money. Mangum
surrendered control of at least sixteen of his slaves, most of his livestock, a variety of
farming tools and tack, kitchen utensils, a portion of the previous year's crops, and some
of his household furniture, to help Webb and Watts consolidate his debts and begin paying
42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. l:xxiii-xxiv, 155, 184, 199, 307, 308,
313, 317-18, 320.

116
them off. The process was slow and painful. Before it was over. Mangum had sold close
to $3,400 worth of slaves and liquidated his unattached real estate holdings. He kept his
house and the surrounding 1,600 acre plantation.43
Mangum's insolvency did not seem to jeopardize his political future. His friends
in Raleigh worked throughout the Spring and Summer of 1828 to get their man back in
office. On May 24, 1828, Thomas Jefferson Green, one of Mangum's most valued allies
in the statehouse, hinted that Nathaniel Macon was about to retire and that Mangum should
think about making a run for the Senate. Resisting temptation, Mangum felt he had to
bow to one of his seniors and declined an invitation that his name to be put forward in the
General Assembly. Another ally told Mangum that he had been mentioned as a possible
appointee to fill the unoccupied post of Attorney General. Neither Willie nor his brother
Priestly, who had actively lobbied for the job, was appointed. Both, however, assumed
active roles during the presidential election campaign of 1828. Priestly served on the
Central Jackson Committee of Vigilance and Correspondence, while his older brother ran
as an elector on the Jackson slate.44
The election of 1828 lacked the drama that had distinguished the campaign four
years earlier. In this contest, only two candidates vied for North Carolina's fifteen
electoral votes, and only one, Andrew Jackson, had a strong following. The other,
43 Ibid., 1:325-29, 330-31, 332-336, 337-338.
44 Ibid., 1:331, 340-41, 343-46, 372; Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum,"
in Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial Times to the Present. Samuel
A. Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917), 5:242;
McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 233-34; Raleigh Register. 5 December 1828.

117
incumbent President John Quincy Adams, failed to create a base of support in the state,
in part because his administration slighted some of the state’s most influential politicians
with his uneven distribution of patronage. In North Carolina, indeed throughout the
country, the Jacksonians were better financed, better organized, and had better leaders.
Adams did have an impressive array of talented journalists backing him, but so too did
Jackson. The Tennessean also had an aggressive corps of campaign managers who
mobilized the recently-expanded electorate and established a network of state-level
committees and local of "Hickory Clubs." His organization had yet to take on all of the
attributes of a modern political party, but compared to that of his rival, Jackson's machine
was a model of efficiency. Unlike Jackson, who took an active part in the daily conduct
of his campaign, Adams proved an uncooperative candidate. Preferring to leave the
unseemly business of politics to his underlings, he did little to help his reelection.45
Historian Robert Remini has described the presidential contest of 1828 as "probably
the dirtiest, coarsest, most vulgar election in American history."46 There seemed to be no
limit to the abuse each side was willing to heap upon the other, hardly surprising,
considering the nature of the political alliances of the day. Both the Jacksonians and the
National Republicans, the party of Adams and Clay, based their coalitions on the personal
qualities of their standard bearers. Each had scrupulously avoided taking stands on the
major issues, fearing the backlash such action might entail. As a result, the candidates
45 Remini, "Election of 1828,” 1:418-24, 432-33.
46
Ibid., 1:426.

118
were the issues; their characters, or lack thereof, became grist for the political mill. The
Adams camp leveled a series of scurrilous attacks against both Jackson and his family,
charging him with everything from treason to murder to blasphemy. Elizabeth Hutchinson
Jackson, the candidate's mother, was alleged to have been a prostitute and. according to
her detractors, had either married a mulatto or was one herself. The opposition circulated
rumors that his wife, Rachel Donalson Robards Jackson, was an adulteress and bigamist,
flagrant misrepresentations of the truth. Adams was not immune to such assaults.
Jacksonians repeated their cries of "corrupt bargain." Not content with that, they recast
the incumbent as an aristocrat, living in opulence and out of touch with the common folk.
The partisan press took to calling Adams "King John the Second." maligning him as a
monarchist who had been corrupted by his years of service as a diplomat in Europe.4'
For voters of North Carolina, the Jackson-Calhoun ticket, which continued under
the banner "the People's Party,” best represented their own values. Although they would
have been hard pressed to find a reference to states rights ideology in Jackson's public
statements, leaders could extrapolate from them a defense of Jeffersonian agrarianism, and
from that, a defense of states rights. This proved an acceptable substitute. The General's
reputation as a war hero and frontiersman only added to his notoriety in this largely rural
state. Another factor working in the General's favor was his southern heritage. While
Adams, a New England-born aristocrat, could not be expected to speak for southern
interests, Jackson could. At least that is what many Tar Heels believed. The Tennessean
47 Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era: 1828-1848 (New York: Harper &
Row, Publishers, 1959), pp. 26-27; Remini. "Election of 1828," 1:418, 426-29.

119
looked unbeatable in North Carolina. Fissures in his coalition, however, revealed the
instability of factional politics. The West, which had four years earlier been the locus of
Jackson's support in the state, showed signs of discontent with the General. Conversely,
the East, once the center of the pro-Crawford forces, had taken up Jackson with great
enthusiasm. The emerging market economy also helped shape political identity.
Conservative elements in the state, voters wary of protective tariffs, elitist government,
and an invasive market economy, took comfort in the agrarian rhetoric of the Democrats.
Cash-crop producing planters, city dwellers, and merchants fell in with Adams, whose
programs appealed to such market-oriented groups. Demographic conditions in North
Carolina gave the advantage to the former. Populated primarily by yeoman farmers and
boasting a mere handful of urban centers, the Old North State had all the earmarks of a
Jacksonian stronghold. The outcome of the November balloting showed this to be true.4*
In November 1828, Jackson trounced Adams in the nationwide contest. He took
every state south of the Potomac River, including North Carolina, where he won in a
landslide. In the popular vote there, Jackson captured 37,875 votes to Adams' 13,918,
meaning that more than 75 percent of the voters had cast their ballots for the General.
Voter turnout jumped by more than 43.3 percentage points over the previous election. In
Orange County, Jackson's good fortune continued. Mangum and the other thirteen
4S Remini, "Election of 1828," 1:418, 436; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," p. 242;
Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861.
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), pp. 48, 64; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian
Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System in
Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1981), p. 149.

120
Jackson electors took in 1,057 votes each. Their opponents managed only 440 votes per
man. In December 1828, Mangum and the other electors assembled in Raleigh to carry
out their official responsibilities, happily giving their state's fifteen electoral votes to the
president-elect.49
While in the state capital, Willie Mangum received some more good news. The
retirement of Judge Thomas Ruffin had left a vacancy on the Superior Court of Law and
Equity. With no other seat to trade off, his opponents in the General Assembly could not
prevent his election as they had one year before. So, on December 10, 1828, the General
Assembly elected Mangum to the bench "without rival or opposition. "50 His official return
to public service began January 12, 1829, the day Governor John Owen signed his
commission from the Governor. Mangum rejoiced in the honor, but more importantly,
he welcomed the much needed stipend that came with the position. The newly reappointed
Judge did not have a say in which circuit he would cover in the Spring. His friend, fellow
jurist James Martin, informed Mangum that the assignments had been made before his
December 10 election. He presumed that Mangum would have no objection to riding the
western Morganton Circuit in the Spring and the Raleigh Circuit during the Autumn
months, but asked that Mangum let him know if either was inconvenient. Martin's desire
49 Remini, "Election of 1828," 1:433, 492; Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in
North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), p. 18;
Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 110; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 1:343-46; Raleigh Register. 5 December 1828.
50 Quote from Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:352; See also, Cheney,
North Carolina Government, pp. 361, 370.

121
to accommodate Mangum suggests that he held him in high esteem and would have
honored a request for a different assignment. Mangum never made such a plea.51
At least one person who saw Mangum preside on the bench came away with a
mixed impression. Attorney James Graham spoke of the efficiency with which Mangum
attended to his case load. "Judge Mangum has done a great quantity of work on our
circuit and given much satisfaction," Graham wrote his brother William. "He is prompt
and quick to decide and right or wrong you know where he is and what he means."
Graham noted, however, that Mangum was by no means "a profound lawyer." What he
lacked in sagacity, he made up for in energy. These same qualities expressed themselves
in his political career. Although never a profound thinker, he labored long hours as a
party organizer and political manager. His speeches and letters show him to be an
ordinary thinker with extraordinary drives.52
Personal tragedy struck the Mangum family during Willie's sojourn in the west.
On March 11, 1829, his mother, Catherine Davis Mangum, passed away. Priestly
Mangum relayed the sad news to his brother, telling him that, after lying in state for two
days, "the corpse was decently interred" in the family plot. Her husband, William Person
Mangum, was "powerfully affected" by her death, but took comfort in the company of his
51 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:352-354.
52 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, et al., eds.. The Papers of William Alexander Graham.
8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 1957-1992), 1:194.

122
friends and family at Red Mountain. Willie, on the other hand, continued at his post until
the end of the term, mourning his mother's death in solitude.53
Judicial duties did not keep Mangum from building up his network of political
connections. While in the western part of the state he met new friends and made a habit
of learning their prejudices and interests. After concluding the day's official business, he
would converse with the local gentry. Invariably, talk turned to politics. Marshall Polk,
writing to his brother James K. Polk of Tennessee, spoke highly of Mangum when he
recalled one such evening years later. "A most through & uncompromising friend of . . .
Jackson," is how he described Mangum, adding that he was "a genuine & unblenching
Southron in feeling & principle."54 Mangum was also a good listener, collecting data with
an eye toward the future. Although he freely shared the intelligence with his associates
back home, he was clearly working to return himself to political office. Along with the
intangible associations he made at this time, Mangum earned the gratitude of those to
whom he awarded patronage. In the Fall of 1829, Mangum rode the highly prized Raleigh
Circuit, placing him at the center of state politics. As usual he broadened his base of
support in anticipation of higher office making connections that did not stop at the state
53 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:358-59.
54 Herbert Weaver et. al., eds., The Correspondence of James K. Polk 7 vols.
(Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1969-1989), 1:363.

123
border. Through his friend Romulus Saunders, Mangum came to know members of the
Van Burén machine in New York State.55
Judges on North Carolina's Superior Court were required by law to ride a different
circuit each term. No Judge could serve two consecutive terms on the same circuit. So,
early in 1830, Mangum and Judge William Norwood devised a new rotation for the
coming year. In their version, Mangum had intentionally avoided the unpopular Edenton
Circuit. No one, particularly Mangum, relished the idea of traveling that district,
especially in the Fall, when the approaching winter made the otherwise dreadful conditions
almost unbearable. When the four other Judges learned of Mangum and Norwood’s
design, they protested and drew up their own schedule. Judge Robert Strange then
informed Mangum of their plan, which called for Mangum to ride Edenton in the Fall.
He scolded Mangum, telling him that he ought to "courageously swallow" this "bitter
dose” without complaint.56 Mangum was saved from the travails of an Autumn in
Edenton, however, when his co-conspirator, Norwood, volunteered to swap assignments.
Mangum agreed; he would ride the Edenton Circuit in the Spring and the Wilmington
Circuit in the Fall. Mangum's attempt to press his own agenda without consulting his
colleagues was unusually heavy-handed for a man skilled in the art of compromise. For
55 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed., The Papers of Thomas Ruffin. 4 vols. (Raleigh:
Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 1:503; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
1:360, 363; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861.
56 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:364.

124
his transgression, he was rightly chastised. He went to Edenton that Spring to lick his
wounds and ponder his next move.57
Within a month after embarking for the East, Mangum fell into his familiar pattern
of loneliness, depression, and fatigue. A severe cold and digestive problems forced
Mangum to cut back on some of his simple pleasures, pickles, pepper, and "spirits." He
told his wife that the one drink of alcohol he did have that month "flushed my face & gave
me a headache." Ordinarily, Mangum could consume much more without suffering such
side effects. As for his promise to abstain from chewing tobacco, Mangum confessed that
he had surrendered to temptation and resumed his habit. The blossoming flowers and
lengthening days only reminded him that he had only spent one Spring with his family.
Even when he was out of office, his legal practice kept him away from home for long
stretches of time. The recent death of his mother compounded his deep depression.
Distance and isolation led him to romanticize about what he had left behind. "Home dear,
delightful home, is at last the only place where anything approaching happiness is to be
enjoyed." Paradoxically, Mangum was never happy to leave Red Mountain, but spent his
lifetime in pursuit of a career that caused him to do just that. A letter from his family
physician, Benjamin Bullock, reminded Mangum why he had undertaken such an
unpleasant chore. Referring to his ongoing financial problems, Mangum wrote, "Gold &
57
Ibid., 1:365.

125
Money is the root of all evil." Had he not been so eager to grow rich, Mangum thought
of himself, then he never would have had to leave home.5"
As Mangum labored on the bench, legislators in Raleigh were preparing to elect
a new United States Senator. James Iredell, the man who had succeeded Nathaniel Macon
in 1828, declared his intention to step down before the start of the March 1831 session of
Congress. His announcement set off a power struggle that involved all of the major
players in North Carolina politics. Politicians there worked within one of a handful of
personal factions. Until 1828, Bartlett Yancey led the most powerful one in the state. His
death that year muddied the waters, as several men vied for the right to replace him. By
1830, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., of Craven County, had emerged from the pack as
Yancey's likely successor. His hold on the organization was not as tight, however, as both
Romulus Saunders and Bedford Brown laid partial claim to the leadership. Spaight, an
eastern-born planter and the son and namesake of a former Governor, never enjoyed the
legislative power exercised by his predecessor. He did, however, command the loyalty
of such men as Charles Fisher, Joseph H. Bryan, Montfort Stokes, William Montgomery,
and several others who would later form the core of the Democratic leadership in North
Carolina. At the time, Willie Mangum was loosely affiliated with this group. He
remained tentative in his support for both Jackson and anything that even remotely
resembled a fully organized political party. The Spaight faction, as the group came to be
58
Ibid., 1:368.

126
known, exhibited those qualities to a greater degree than any other faction in North
Carol ina.59
The strongest challenge to the dominant Spaight faction came from a group of
western leaders. David Caldwell of Salisbury and William J. Alexander of Charlotte led
this less-cohesive faction. Both men mistrusted Jackson and both were close friends of
Willie Mangum. Ex-Federalists William Gaston and William Meares, along with outgoing
Senator James Iredell, often sided with this second group. Approximately half the men
who considered themselves enemies of Spaight also counted themselves loyal to John
Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. Opposition to the leading faction was not confined to the
west. John Owen and Jesse Speight headed a group of easterners who challenged the
dominance of the Spaight faction. Combined, these groups roughly constituted an
opposition party and many of their leaders went on to create the Whig Party.60
Mangum's personal and professional ties to both the major factions put him in a
unique position at the start of the 1830 senatorial contest. Without strong ideological
commitments to guide them, both groups simply approached candidates they deemed
"available," which, in nineteenth-century parlance, meant able to be elected by a diverse
body. Accordingly, both factions looked to men like Mangum who were too young and
cautious to have made many enemies and not strongly identified with one faction or the
59 Harold J. Counihan, "North Carolina 1815-1836: State and Local Perspectives in the
Age of Jackson," (Ph. D. dissertation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1971),
pp. 84-87; William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics (Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1958), pp. 2, 14-15, 28.
60
Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 29.

127
other. Shortly after Iredell announced his decision to retire, members from the two
factions began the process of choosing a nominee from among their ranks. Each faction
wanted little more than the prestige and power that would come with victory. A
candidates' ideology mattered little. Iredell, still a force to be reckoned with, exhorted to
his friends that they elect a man loyal to Jackson. No other criteria was suggested. With
Jacksonians dominating the General Assembly, this would prove an easy task. Appeasing
the ambitions and jealousies of the power brokers in Raleigh would be more difficult.61
During the late Fall of 1830, the leading candidates descended upon Raleigh to
press their claims for the vacant seat. Most were familiar faces in state government for
many had openly sought the post in 1828. Jesse Speight, one such man, put aside his own
ambitions to promote the candidacy of Governor John Owen. He convinced former
Federalist and fellow Jacksonian, William Gaston, to do the same. Another perennial
Fixture in state politics, Montfort Stokes, made it known that he too desired the job. His
allies, certain he would fail, tried to dissuade him, but Stokes ignored their pleas and asked
his friend Edmund Jones to place his name in nomination. Opponents of the Spaight
faction relished the idea of running against Stokes, who had made many enemies during
his long tenure in state government. They secretly urged him on. Stokes' stubborn
persistence and his willingness to run without the full support of his allies attests to the
lack of discipline within factions. The ability of one group to impose its will upon the
61 Ibid., pp. 31-32; Raleigh Star. 9 September 1830.

128
other show these to be loose-knit, unstable, and poorly disciplined organizations,
vulnerable to manipulation from outside forces.62
Perhaps the most telling example of this instability was the candidacy of Willie
Mangum. The leaders of the Spaight faction had pared down the list of candidates to four
names; John R. Donnell. Willie Mangum, Charles Fisher, and Romulus Saunders. The
latter two refused the honor and withdrew their names from consideration, leaving only
Mangum and Donnell in the race. Lower echelon members of the faction remained evenly
divided. Most were content to elect either man, but a vocal contingent of Donnell
supporters wondered aloud if Mangum had the states-rights credentials needed to win over
the General Assembly. To assuage their fears, Mangum submitted what modern analysts
might call a "position paper," a written declaration of his views on federally funded
internal improvements, loose construction of the constitution, and President Jackson.
Mangum stated plainly that he opposed the first two and backed the last. Satisfied, most
of the Donnell supporters fell in with the rest of their faction behind Mangum.
Miscommunication, confusion, and pride threatened to disrupt all they had accomplished.6'
While his friends in the Spaight faction pushed for Mangum’s candidacy, Charles
L. Hinton and William Sneed, representing the Caldwell-Alexander-Owen faction, worked
to convince Mangum that he ought to run as their candidate. After polling their
colleagues, Hinton, Sneed, and Alexander concluded Owen could not win. Despairing the
62 Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 32.
63 Ibid; Tarborough Free Press. 15 February 1831.

129
possibility of a Donnell victory, Hinton and Sneed approached their friend Mangum. In
him they saw the ideal candidate, a self-described Jacksonian with allies in every camp.
Privately, some members of this faction hoped Mangum's nomination would split the
opposition, thus ensuring the election of their first choice. Governor Owen. Hinton and
Sneed, however, acted out of friendship and the desire to win.64
Initially, Mangum rejected their entreaties. Although he aspired to the post, he felt
the field was already crowded with men more talented and experienced than himself.
Enlisting the aid of Priestly Mangum, Sneed and Hinton stepped up their efforts to enlist
Mangum. Combining flattery with appeals to principle, Sneed assured the Judge that he
would make an excellent senator and warned of the consequences should he decline to run.
Without Mangum, Sneed cautioned, the state would fall into the clutches of the "party,"
meaning the Spaight faction. Sneed had chosen his words carefully, for he knew Mangum
shared his animosity for organized parties. Apparently another of Mangum's allies had
worded his plea in similar antiparty language. The same day that Sneed wrote his letter,
Charles Hinton received word through Priestly Mangum that his brother was prepared to
run. Hinton agreed with Mangum that "the emergency of the times" demanded the
participation of men free from the taint of faction. Doubtless Mangum was induced by the
appeals of his fellow antipartisans. It is equally true that he was motivated by a desire for
64 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:379-81; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and
North Carolina Politics, pp. 32-33.

130
office. So, acting on both principle and self-interest, he gave his friends permission to
place his name in nomination for the United States Senate.'’5
Support from both of the major factions did not guarantee Mangum a victory in the
General Assembly. His consultations with each group had been carried out in secrecy,
each unaware of what the other had planned. When one faction heard what the second
intended, each moved to be the first to place Mangum’s name in nomination. Both the
Spaight faction and their opponents claimed the allegiance of Mangum. In reality, neither
had it. Mangum could, in good conscience, make overtures to both factions because he
regarded himself as an independent agent. Like many of his contemporaries, he viewed
political alliances as temporary coalitions, not permanent organizations. When the work
of the group was finished — in this case, once it had elected Mangum to the Senate — the
coalition was to be disbanded. He would own nothing to his benefactors and would expect
nothing in return. Alliances in a pre-partisan political culture were unstable and
undisciplined, characteristics that prompted political leaders across the nation to begin
fabricating stable, disciplined, and permanent political parties.
As the election approached, the power brokers met to plot strategy. Edward Ward,
a leading member of the Spaight faction, met privately with Charles Hinton and convinced
him to delay Mangum's nomination until November 25. Hinton agreed because he thought
he needed more time to line up the necessary votes. Ward, however, reneged on the deal.
When the Senate convened on November 25, Ward captured the floor immediately after
65 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.Mangum. 1:380-81.

131
the journal had been read into the record and placed Mangum’s name in nomination. As
if to punctuate their message, Jesse Bynum, acting on instructions from the Spaight
faction, did the same on the floor of the House of Commons. The supporters of Owen
were infuriated. They wanted the credit and rewards that would come with Mangum’s
success. Owen blamed Mangum personally for the turn of events and withdrew his
backing. Meanwhile, Edmund Jones completed the field with his nomination of Montfort
Stokes. On November 29, 1830, the joint assembly began balloting. Mangum out polled
his rival on the first ballot by a vote of 80 to 67, but fell short of the amount needed to
win. Shortly after the first votes had been tallied. Governor Owen entered the race. By
the fourth ballot Stokes had all but vanished, receiving only 11 votes. Mangum and Owen
were deadlocked with 89 votes each.66
The balloting process, which had already consumed several days and promised to
consume several more, had frayed the nerves and quickened the tempers of the contestants
and their floor managers. Daily intelligence reports told Mangum of his diminishing
chances. From what he could gather, Owen had not only betrayed him by entering the
race, but had publicly assailed his character and principles. Incensed, he wrote both Owen
and Ward on December 1, 1830, to counter accusations that he had been controlling events
in Raleigh from his home at Red Mountain. "It is a leading principle upon which I have
always acted ... to shew [sic] mv hand unreservedly in all political transactions,"
Mangum wrote in response to charges that he had surreptitiously conducted a campaign
66 Ibid., 1:389-93; McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle," pp. 306-07; Hoffman, Andrew
Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 33.

132
of character assassination against Owen. To emphasize his point, Mangum openly
challenged Owen's integrity. "I have implicated your political principles in the strongest
& most unequivocal manner."57 Fed up with the "mystery, subterfuge, & concealment"
that had marked the entire process, Mangum asked his backers to recant his nomination.58
In Raleigh, Mangum's troops did their best keep his chances alive. Instead of
withdrawing Mangum's name, as he had instructed, they stalled. On December 2, 1830,
the assembly voted for the fifth time. Mangum now trailed Owen by the vote of 97 to 86.
Sensing a shift in momentum away from Mangum, Hinton, Sneed, and Romulus Saunders,
moved for, and received, an extended weekend recess. They hoped to use the extra time
to draw supporters away from Owen and to persuade Mangum to come to Raleigh to
defend his name. Owen, Saunders wrote, had been maligning Mangum during his visits
with wavering legislators. Only Mangum's direct intervention, he warned, could salvage
his candidacy.59 Up until this time Mangum had resisted all efforts to get him to come to
Raleigh. Now he had a second reason to go to the capital. On December 4, Owen wrote
Mangum to accept what he interpreted as "an invitation to the field of honor."70 Owen
took personal offence to what Mangum had written in his letter of December 1, 1830.
Mangum responded quickly. The following day he sent off a note explaining his position.
He confessed "a strong expression of surprise" that Owen would take such a statement to
57 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.Mangum. 1:388.
68 Ibid., 1:389.
59 Ibid., 1:391-92.
70
Ibid., 1:395.

133
heart. "Comments of this sort," he explained, fell "within the range of legitimate criticism
of public men & their public principles." He added that by making his comments directly
to Owen, rather than behind the Governor's back, he avoided the unprincipled act of
"striking a blow in the dark." Professing shock that Owen would even suggest such
disreputable behavior, he explained that dueling was illegal in the state of North Carolina
and that as a Judge he had no intention of violating the law.71 Intermediaries stepped in
at once to calm the situation. With their aid. Owen and Mangum resolved their differences
peacefully, but not until after the election had been settled.
Mangum arrived in Raleigh during the weekend recess to meet with Owen and
muster additional support for his cause. His presence, along with his denunciation of
Owen, convinced Spaight that he had in Mangum an unwavering ally. Mangum
reaffirmed his opposition to federally funded internal improvements, a stand that
differentiated him from Owen, and his support for Andrew Jackson. He was joined in
Raleigh by Donnell, who, like Spaight, urged his followers to vote for Mangum.
Together, these actions turned the course of the election. On Monday, December 6, 1830,
the Assembly resumed balloting. On the sixth ballot, Mangum took a 96 to 86 lead. The
next ballot put him over the top. After seven ballots, taken over several days, the General
Assembly elected Willie P. Mangum to the United States Senate by a vote of 103 to 84.
Four days later Mangum resigned from the bench and returned home to put his affairs in
order. His backers believed they had just elected a solid Jacksonian. In reality, they had
71
Ibid., 1:395-96.

134
picked a man who had been wavering from the start, uncomfortable with many of the
president’s measures, but even less comfortable with the idea of having no allies. So. the
reluctant Jacksonian would bide his time at Red Mountain for one year before setting off
to Washington to begin his career in the Senate.72
72 North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons (Raleigh:
State Printer, 1830), pp. 202, 208; Raleigh Register. 9 December 1830; Raleigh Star. 9
December 1830; Cheney, North Carolina Government, pp. 370, 678; McFarland, "Rip
Van Winkle," p. 307; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 34;
William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1978), p. 6.

CHAPTER 5
PLAYING CHESS
Willie Mangum spent his first two years in the United States Senate in search of
an identity. He was not alone in this quest. The fragile alliances that had formed in the
wake of the election of 1824 were beginning to unravel. The majority party, first drawn
together by the persona of their leader, Andrew Jackson, now had to formulate policies.
With each new measure, with each new stand, came new enemies. Willie Mangum
counted himself among the growing ranks of the disenchanted, upset by what he saw as
Jackson's extralegal policies and the political gamesmanship consuming official
Washington. "Every move on the political chessboard has been made with an eye toward
the move of the adversary," he complained to his friend James Iredell in 1832. But
Mangum too was playing chess. As the administration moved steadily from the states
rights conservatism and strict construction of both Mangum and key elements of his
constituency, the junior Senator found himself seeking new alliances with old foes. The
shift was tentative, uncertain, and, at times, confusing. His caution was well founded, for
Jackson continued to enjoy strong support in North Carolina and Mangum feared the
backlash his political somersault would elicit. Gradually, Mangum’s statements about the
General and his coterie of advisors went from celebratory to condemnatory. By the winter
135

136
of 1833-34 he was prepared to denounce openly the administration, waiting only for an
issue that would resonate with the people at home.1
The game Mangum described to Iredell began shortly after Jackson's inauguration.
The new president's promise to bring down the cost of government had universal appeal.
The implementation of his program of retrenchment, however, left many people out of
work and questioning the General's motives. To create a well-ordered bureaucracy and
remove ineffective or dishonest people from office, Jackson accelerated the policy of
rotation in office begun during the Jefferson administration. In his first eighteen months
in office he replaced 919 of the 10,093 officeholders in the federal government. Noble
intentions aside, Jackson also dismissed men whom he deemed disloyal or subversive to
his administration. It was this latter practice that caused an uproar in anti-Jackson circles.
Criticism of the "spoils system" came from Jacksonians as well. Many of them felt they
had been denied their fair share of the patronage and others, particularly conservatives,
were uncomfortable with the idea of bestowing such power on the president. Willie
Mangum and other North Carolinians felt slighted by the administration's patronage
policies. Mangum's inherent suspicion of powerful executives compounded his sense of
alienation. The intra-party imbroglio that began with Peggy Eaton and ended with the
reordering of the cabinet led Mangum to break his silence. He compared the government
under Jackson to a "joint stock company for the distribution of patronage," where, for a
1 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.

137
price, anyone could reap the benefits of the public treasury.: By early 1834 he had joined
a growing chorus of southerners who watched the rise of Martin Van Burén with
trepidation. "It is one of the alarming signs of the decay of public virtue," Mangum wrote
of Van Burén, "that a man may attain [the presidency] without public service, high talent,
or any thing strongly to sustain him, except simply the patronage of the [executive
government], "J
The Peggy Eaton affair and the reorganization of the cabinet capped a series of
policy disputes that divided members of the Jackson coalition. Vice President John C.
Calhoun, one of the most visible leaders of the new opposition, expressed puzzlement over
the chief executive's denunciation of Chief Justice John Marshall's ruling in the Supreme
Court decision of Worcester v. Georgia. Jackson invoked states rights principles he had
once attacked as subversive when employed by Calhoun in his condemnation of the tariff,
proof, the Vice President reasoned, that the General lacked a consistent political ideology.
Despite Calhoun's own objections, Jackson's Indian Policy and his veto of the Maysville
Road Bill were popular with old line Republicans in the South. While his relocation of the
Native American tribes to lands west of the Mississippi River did not initiate wholesale
: Willie P. Mangum to William H. Haywood, 31 May 1832, Willie Person Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Lynn L. Marshall, "The Strange
Stillbirth of the Whig Party," American Historical Review 72 (1967): 454-55; Glyndon
G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era: 1828-1848 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers,
1959), pp. 35-36.
3 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 2:75.

138
party realignment in Congress, the preceding debate did help cement the alliance that had
opposed Jackson's candidacy in 1828.4
At the same time, anti-administration forces across the nation remained divided
over important questions of policy. With politicians representing the entire political
spectrum and every region, the opposition's ability to present a united front was hindered
by divisions over policy and clashing egos. In 1830 Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and
Robert Hayne of South Carolina tried to fuse the issues of tariff reduction and cheap public
land into a single package to bring together southern and western interests. Jackson
favored postponing the distribution of the proceeds from public land sales until after the
national debt had been liquidated. Benton argued that settlers in his region wanted the land
now, not at some indeterminate time in the future. In 1832, Henry Clay tried to revamp
federal land policy, changing the way proceeds from public land sales were distributed by
the federal government to individual states. His plan would allot an additional 10 percent
of the revenue to the states that had surrendered the land. Although his proposal failed,
the effort to unite regional anti-Jackson forces using substantive issues had begun. Tariff
4 David J. Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period and the
Development of Party Loyalty in Congress, 1830-1840," Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society 62 (1972): 12-14; Thomas Brown, Politics and Statesmanship:
Essays on the American Whig Party (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), p.
156; William S. Hoffman, "John Branch and the Origins of the Whig Party in North
Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 35 (1958): 302; George Rawlings Poage,
Henry Clay and the Whig Party (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,
1936), p. 6; Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, p. 50.

139
reduction and inexpensive land would finally prove a poor choice for such a venture, but
the seeds of cooperation had been sown.5
Internal administration rivalries, rooted in the struggle to succeed Jackson as
President of the United States, culminated in April 1831, when Jackson restructured his
cabinet. Calhoun and Van Burén worked tirelessly to win the favor of the President.
While Calhoun loyalists dominated Jackson's original cabinet. Van Burén developed a
close personal relationship with the General. Conflict began when Floride Calhoun, wife
of the Vice President, convinced the wives of the cabinet officers to ostracize Peggy
Eaton, the wife of Secretary of War John Eaton. Allegations of adultery and sexual
impropriety hounded Mrs. Eaton since the death of her first husband and her subsequent
marriage to Eaton. Jackson loathed these attacks and demanded that Peggy Eaton be
accorded the same respect and courtesy given any woman of her high station. But Peggy
Eaton remained an outcast. Sensing an opportunity to win Jackson’s trust and genuinely
concerned for the feelings of the Eatons, Van Burén, a widower, convinced them that he
did not share the ill will of his fellow cabinet members. In rumor-mongering Washington,
the New York politician could expect word of his kindness to reach the appreciative ear
of the President.6
Divisions inside the administration worsened as power plays within the cabinet
intensified. Alarmed by Calhoun's powerful grip on his cabinet and the South Carolinian's
5 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 40, 58-60.
6 Margaret L. Coit, John C. Calhoun: American Portrait (Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1950), pp. 193-195, 198-201.

140
support for the doctrine of nullification, Jackson turned to Van Burén and his unofficial
advisors, known collectively as the "kitchen cabinet," to plan his next move. Van Burén
convinced Jackson to purge the cabinet of Calhoun's influence. He presented the President
with evidence that Calhoun had tried to censure the General in 1818 for what Calhoun had
characterized as an illegal incursion into Spanish Florida. Jackson fumed but chose to let
the matter die down. When Calhoun issued a pamphlet detailing the events of his feud
with Van Burén, the General decided to act. Van Burén and Eaton willingly resigned their
posts, allowing Jackson to ask the same of Secretary of the Treasury Samuel D. Ingham,
Secretary of the Navy John Branch, and Attorney General John M. Berrien. The three
Calhounites obliged. Jackson replaced them with men loyal to himself and Van Burén.
The move ushered in a new era in southern politics. Calhoun's men had been swept from
the administration and with them went much of the southern influence. Berrien and
Branch, from Georgia and North Carolina respectively, took away important local, state,
and regional connections and large personal followings. Jackson's hold on the South was
slipping.7 Willie Mangum remained in the Jackson fold, but admired the way Branch
carried himself. "Our friend Branch . . . bore himself throughout with the manliness of
a southern gentleman," he wrote several months after the episode. He could not say the
7 Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America: Society. Personality, and Politics (Homewood
Ill.: The Dorsey Press, rev. ed., 1978), p. 292; Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 43-
46; Hoffman, "John Branch," p. 299; Burton W. Folsom II, "Party Formation &
Development in Jacksonian America; The Old South," Journal of American Studies 7
(1973): 221, 223-24; Richard E. Ellis, The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy. States’
Rights and the Nullification Crisis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 70;
Arthur C. Cole, The Whig Party in the South (Washington, D.C.: American Historical
Association, 1913), pp. 8-9.

141
same of Jackson. "The President has spoken of him in terms not to be endured & not to
be easily explained. "8
The first session of the twenty-second congress, Mangum's first as a United States
Senator, began in December 1831 and was expected to last seven or eight weeks. Cold
and tired, Mangum debarked from the steamboat that had carried him up the Potomac. He
informed his wife Charity that the city had undergone some impressive physical changes
in his absence but assured her that his colleagues continued to act as they had before.
Rather than follow fashion and board in a densely-packed rooming house, Mangum
decided to settle in "a small mess on Capitol Hill." There he found comfort with fellow
southerners. Senators Samuel Smith of Maryland and William King of Alabama, and two
others whom he did not name. From his third floor room he could watch the new canal
carry people and commerce through the city. He could also "read & study" in quiet
solitude, far above the busy street. Heavy snow kept him indoors during his first weeks
in the capital, limiting his ability to reacquaint himself with the city and visit friends. He
did, however, run into Henry Clay and commented to his wife that he "looks well & like
an old friend." Long captivated by his charm and affability, Mangum would soon look
upon Clay as a dear personal friend and, later, as a valued ally.9
In his first test of loyalty to the administration, Mangum was asked to support the
president's nomination of Martin Van Burén as ambassador to the Court of Saint James.
8 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
9 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:424-26.

142
Jackson had named the former Secretary of State to the post in June 1831 while Congress
was in recess. Van Burén left for London before receiving confirmation from the Senate.
Having reconvened, opponents of the administration in the Senate, led by Calhoun and
Clay, wanted to use the vote to test party solidarity and publicly humiliate Van Burén.
The vote marked the beginning of a marriage of convenience between Clay and Calhoun.
On this issue Mangum stood by the president, speaking favorably of Van Burén and voting
for his confirmation.10 Privately, Mangum admitted that Van Burén may not have been
the best choice for the post, but that had done nothing to warrant his recall. Besides, he
added with a sense of national pride, "1 most decidedly disapprove of exposing in any
shape or for any purpose our domestic dissensions to foreign powers."11 Calhoun did not
share Mangum's sense of propriety. He used his new pull with Clay’s men to arrange the
vote so it would end in a tie, giving him the opportunity as Vice President to cast the
deciding vote against his enemy. His plan worked.12 Of the new partnership between
Clay and Calhoun, Mangum could only scoff. "The idea of a coalition between Calhoun
& Clay is ridiculous. They met on the Van Burén question like two ships might meet on
the . . . Pacific - to pass & never meet again."13
10 Ibid., 1:462, 485; William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics
(Chapel Hill; University of North Carolina Press, 1958), p. 44.
11 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
12 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, p. 58.
13 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.

143
If Mangum regarded one party as the object of ridicule, the other was fast
becoming the object of scorn. Like the American colonists of the 1760s who condemned
the King's parliament before criticizing the King himself, Mangum first faulted those
around "King Andrew I" for the misconduct of the administration. "The President, with
the best of intentions, I fear listens too much to persons wholly unworthy of respect or
confidence," Mangum wrote less than a month after the January 1832 vote rejecting Van
Burén. One by one, Mangum evaluated the members of the cabinet for his associate James
Iredell, finding little to give him hope. He described Secretary of State Edward Livingston
as "a mere cypher" and Secretary of War Lewis Cass as little more than a bureaucrat.
Given the nature of Jackson's advisors, Mangum felt that "the opportunity for doing much
good [was] lost." Be that as it may, he would enjoy the remainder of the session. "The
winter has been rather gay," he reported to Iredell. Parties offered him the opportunity
to drink, dance, and talk politics, three of his favorite pastimes. Putting aside political
differences, he dined with Attorney General Roger B. Taney and found his company
pleasing. Mangum did not condone much of what the administration did with regard to
patronage and policy, but he would not forego social activities simply because they took
place at the home of an adversary.14
While Mangum regarded patronage in the hands of a president as dangerous and
a threat to liberty, he apparently saw nothing wrong with it when dispensed by a United
State Senator. During his first session in the upper chamber Mangum received numerous
14
Ibid.

144
requests for favors. Most came from influential leaders in North Carolina, but they were
not limited to them. Walker Anderson, a schoolmaster from Hillsborough, expressed his
gratitude and sense of obligation to the senator for placing his kin at West Point. Romulus
Saunders, who had made the same request on behalf of his son Franklin, thanked Mangum
when the appointment came through. Mangum dealt directly with Secretary of War Lewis
Cass when Duncan Cameron requested such an appointment for his nephew, William
Cameron. His patron also asked that Mangum secure a judicial post for his brother John.
Cameron later credited Mangum with placing John on the bench. Accumulating the good
will of powerful figures in his home state. Mangum also worked to reach the reading
public. In a request for a postal route, C. H. Jordan pointed out that disseminating
information to outlying counties was essential if Mangum wanted to keep his name and his
message before the public. Whether he acted on this particular request is uncertain.
During his long career Mangum made many appeals for such routes and his name and
message did stay with the people of North Carolina.15
The political realignment Mangum likened to a game of chess continued through
the presidential election of 1832. Dissatisfied southern Jacksonians moved cautiously.
Afraid to launch direct attacks against the popular hero of New Orleans, southern
Democrats pursued his running mate, Martin Van Burén, instead. On May 21, 1832, 334
delegates representing every state except Missouri gathered in Baltimore for the first
national Democratic Party convention. The assemblage approved nominations made by
15 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:422, 457, 470, 514, 519, 548-49.

145
several states, handing Jackson an uncontested nomination for a second term. The vice
presidential spot went to Martin Van Burén, who took 208 votes on the first ballot.
Virginia's Philip Barbour received 49 votes and Kentucky's Richard M. Johnson garnered
26. In a show of unanimity, the convention decreed Van Burén the choice of the entire
body. No plank, no statement of principles emerged from Baltimore, only the hero, his
reputation, and Martin Van Burén.15
Even before the Van Burén nomination. North Carolina's top Jacksonians worried
about the negative effect he would have on the ticket in their state. Constituents and
colleagues besieged Mangum, seeking information about prospective vice presidential
candidates or warning of the consequences should Van Burén get the nod. In January,
Romulus Saunders told Mangum that he agreed with the Senator, that Van Burén "should
not be brought forward . . . for V- President, unless ... he should be rejected" as
Minister to Great Britain.17 The next month, Mangum confessed to James Iredell that,
although he believed Van Buren's nomination inevitable, he was nevertheless opposed.
For Mangum the main issue was electability. Van Burén, he feared, would be a drag on
the ticket in North Carolina. Judge John McLean of Ohio, Mangum offered, would be the
better choice. McLean's lack of candor did not bother the pragmatist. "Judge McLean's
policy seems to have been never to show even the tip of his finger in dangerous questions
15 Robert V. Remini, "Election of 1832," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel,
and William P. Hansen, eds., History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4
vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:498, 507-08.
17 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:462.

146
of general politics," Mangum wrote Iredell, adding frankly, "My respect for him, has on
that account not been of the highest order - nor do I hold his ability in very high respect."
As a northern man with opinions not entirely offensive to the South, however, McLean
would "bring to us what we so much need, numerical & political force."18
Martin Reed of Halifax, North Carolina, did not share Mangum's desire to appease
northern voters. He advocated placing favorite son John Branch on the ticket. Speaking
for his friends, Reed informed the senator that Van Burén would be an unpopular
selection. Bluntly, Spencer O'Brien, a Commoner from Granville County, warned his ally
that Van Burén would be "dead weight" on Jackson and that Philip Barbour or Judge
William Smith, a native of North Carolina, were preferable.19 State legislator John Martin
of Wilkes County echoed the sentiments of Reed and O'Brien. Van Burén, he speculated,
would split their ranks. Like Reed, Martin was most troubled by Van Buren's reputation
as an advocate of protective tariffs. Mangum found himself trapped, forced to choose
between old friends at home and the leader of the national party.20
Former Secretary of the Navy John Branch led the assault on Van Burén in North
Carolina. James Iredell, John Owen, and Charles Fisher also aligned themselves against
Van Burén. Even William Polk, the state-level director of Jackson's 1824 and 1828
presidential campaigns, opposed the General on the choice of Van Burén. The New
"Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
19 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:494.
20 Ibid., 1:462, 500-501, 513.

147
Yorker was considered a political hack, unworthy of high office. His connection to the
Albany Regency disturbed North Carolinians who professed a distaste for party intrigue.
Branch branded Van Burén "the father of the tariffs" of 1824 and 1828, a fabrication with
no basis in fact, and the state press adopted the tag. Political chieftains privately proposed
several alternatives to Van Burén, including Branch, William Gaston, and Willie Mangum,
but refused to move until they saw how anti-Van Burén movements elsewhere would
respond.21
Once the delegates in Baltimore had made their decision, leaders from several
southern states, including North Carolina, felt compelled to act. Responding to a call from
Branch, the anti-Van Burén Jacksonians met at the Governor's mansion in Raleigh. The
poorly attended meeting, which took place on June 18, 1832, included representatives
from only eighteen of the state's sixty-four counties. They labeled Van Burén "odious,"
calling particular attention to his support of the tariff, and selected Philip Barbour as an
alternative vice presidential candidate on the Jackson ticket.22 Many North Carolina
Democrats thought the Virginian one of their own, a southerner who advocated a reduced
tariff. He would later write that protective tariffs ran counter to the "spirit of the
21 Hoffman, "John Branch and the Origins of the Whig Party," pp. 304-305; Herbert
Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina. Chapel Hill: Colonial Press, 1968), p. 3;
Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North Carolina,” (Ph. D.
dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 355-56; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian
Politics and Community Conflict; The Emergence of the Second American Party System
in Cumberland County. North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1981), p. 177.
22 Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party Formation in
the Jacksonian Era (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1966), p. 205.

148
constitution" and denied the legality of both a national bank and federally funded internal
improvements.23 Before adjourning, the rump established a central committee to organize
the statewide Jackson-Barbour movement and to coordinate their work with similar drives
in Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.24 James Iredell had summed up their
public position some months earlier when he asked Willie Mangum, "Is it not important
to the South that we should have a Vice-President of our principles?"25 In fact, his
objections to the New Yorker, as well as those of his allies, were based on personal
differences as much they were on questions of principle. Southern Jacksonians who had
fallen from grace after the reorganization of the cabinet had voiced their dissatisfaction
with the administration without directly challenging the president.26
Mangum thought the Barbour movement ill advised, predicting it would have no
impact on the November election. He shared these feelings with most Jacksonians back
home, including Romulus Saunders, who remained steadfastly pro-Van Burén throughout
the race. Unlike Mangum, he did not express misgivings as to the viability of the ticket.
Prior to the convention Mangum opposed the nomination, and later, after he had split from
the Democrats, would say that he had cast his vote for Van Burén with "deep
23 Philip Barbour to Joseph H. Bryan, 9 September 1832, quoted in Hoffman, Andrew
Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 55.
24 McCormick, The Second American Party System, p. 205.
25 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:472.
26 William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856. (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), p. 19; Richard P. McCormick, "Was
There a 'Whig Strategy' in 1836?" Journal of the Early Republic 4 (1984): 49; Watson,
Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 178.

149
reluctance."27 For now, however, he remained loyal to the party. Once the decree had
come down from the White House that the New Yorker would be the nominee, Mangum
fell in line. Late in the Summer of 1832, Mangum felt sure he had backed the right horse.
"If two tickets are to run," he wrote, referring to the Jackson-Van Burén and Jackson-
Barbour tickets, "the regular nomination will succeed."28 His brother Priestly shared his
opinion. In October even Barbour recognized the futility of his candidacy and withdrew
his name from the ballot. Mangum had staked his future on the regular ticket of Jackson
and Van Burén. He could only hope that the reports from Priestly and the others had been
accurate.29
The Jackson-Van Burén slate took all of North Carolina's 15 electoral votes in the
November election. Tallying 21,006 votes, they beat Henry Clay and John Sergeant of
Pennsylvania, running together under the "National Republican" banner, by 16,468 votes.
The Jackson-Barbour ticket finished third with 4,225 votes. Anti-Mason candidate
William Wirt’s name did not appear on the North Carolina ballot. Jackson ran well in the
South. He took 68 percent of the region's popular vote and won all its electoral votes,
save those of South Carolina, where the state legislature awarded the state's eleven to John
Floyd of Virginia. Lingering resentment over the tariff accounted for this largely symbolic
27Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:582; McCormick, The Second
American Party System, p. 205; Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832,
James Iredell Papers, Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North
Carolina.
28 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:569.
29 Ibid., 1:566; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy' in 1836?" p. 49.

150
gesture. In the national tally, Jackson won 219 electoral votes: Clay could only manage
49, while Wirt won seven and Floyd eleven. '"
Despite their landslide, the Jacksonians showed signs of weakness. The hero’s
popular majority had slipped by more than 1.5 percentage points from the previous
contest, the first such drop in the history of American presidential politics. The actions
of the South Carolina state legislature and the Barbour Democrats revealed a growing
chasm between Jackson and important elements of his Southern constituency. Across the
South, Democrats could see the collapse of one-party rule. In North Carolina, for
example, the incumbent carried all except one county, but lost much of his support in the
west, where he once appeared invincible. State leaders who had initiated the Barbour
movement drifted into permanent opposition. Given time and the retirement of Jackson,
these men, capable organizers one and all, would build a viable alternative to the
Democratic Party in North Carolina. Although Mangum had kept his distance during the
presidential election, he shared their suspicion of Martin Van Burén, protective tariffs, and
concentrated power. Transferring his allegiance from one group to the next, therefore,
would be easy if, as Mangum was beginning to suspect, the administration fell under the
spell of the "Little Magician" and his party.31
30 Remini, "Election of 1832," 1:515, 574, 581.
31 Ibid., 1:515, 581; Max R. Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North
Carolina: A Synthesis and a Modest Proposal," North Carolina Historical Review 47
(1970): 117; Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina.
1776-1861. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), p. 64; Watson, Jacksonian Politics
and Community Conflict, p. 178; William S. Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig
Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," Journal of Southern History 22 (1956): 340.

151
During the presidential election campaign of 1832 President Andrew Jackson
himself was the main issue. A remnant of the age of the politics of personality, one's love
for or hatred of the President seemed to govern decisions at the ballot box. New concerns
arose over the conduct of the administration about tariff policy and the National Bank.
The Tariff of 1828, labeled the "tariff of abominations" by its southern detractors, was a
Democratic measure. In an attempt to win over voters in Pennsylvania and New York
during the election of 1828, members of the Jackson coalition won a modestly protective
tariff. Southern Jacksonians were betrayed, or so their leaders said. The public saw little,
if any, correlation between tariff policy and their economic well-being. In order to excite
them, therefore, opponents of the tariff began to "educate" voters, telling them that liberty
and a healthy economy were outgrowths of a low tariff. Creating public opinion where
it once did not exist ranked among the first duties of nineteenth-century American
politicians.32
The most vociferous opponent of the 1828 revision was John Calhoun. His
Exposition and Protest argued that the individual states, not the Supreme Court, had the
final say in deciding the constitutionality of federal laws. By his reasoning any state
legislature could nullify a law, the tariff for instance, if it was deemed inviolate of the
expressed powers of the constitution. Narrowly read, the document allowed for states to
32 Robert V. Remini, "Election of 1828," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel,
and William P. Hansen, eds.. History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4
vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:425; Remini, "Election of 1832,"
1:516; Thomas E. Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1815-1861
(Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 146; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 1:504-06.

152
declare laws null and void, nothing more. But critics and advocates alike read into it, and
later pronouncements by the Vice President, who at first did not openly admit authorship,
much more. Hence forward, questions concerning tariff policy became entangled with
debates over the nature of the federal union, the legality of secession, and the rights of the
states.’’1
Released shortly after the passage of the Tariff of 1828, Calhoun's Exposition
received a great deal of attention in North Carolina. Although representatives from that
state had unanimously opposed the 1828 Tariff Bill, as well as those passed in 1816 and
1824, public opinion there was beginning to turn in favor of moderate protection by 1830.
In 1828, both the Raleigh Register and Hillsborough Recorder, the two most widely
circulated newspapers in Mangum's district, came out in favor of protection.34 Mangum
was slow to follow. In February 1832, he told his friend James Iredell that he still held
Calhoun and his work in high esteem. "I shall state the naked fact, unpopular as it is," he
wrote of the South Carolinian's Exposition, "the publication which deprived him of almost
all his popularity and power, raised him higher in my estimation than he had ever before
stood." Mangum added that, nullification aside, "the principles promulgated in |the)
exposition . . . [are] the principles of the Constitution." The tariff, he seethed, was
nothing more than the "legalized plunder of the profits of [southernl labor." Greed, not
33 William W. Freehling, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South
Carolina. 1816-1836 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1965), pp. 158-68, 175,
225.
34
Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p. 4.

153
principle, drove protectionists to enact the tariff; fear, not principle, led them to scramble
for compromise when crisis loomed. "The politicians who first excited the spirit of
avarice for political purposes," Mangum said of the protectionists, "for political purposes
[are] now willing to sooth it."35
Mangum withheld his praise for Calhoun's intellectual prowess and concerned
himself instead with the fears of his allies in North Carolina. John Scott, a lawyer from
Hillsborough, kept Mangum abreast of local attitudes regarding the tariff. As far as he
could gather, the community worried more for the safety of the Union than it did for any
tariff, high or low. "In North Carolina, I know of but one feeling, a feeling of deepest
horror, at the very thought of a dissolution of the Union." By December 18, 1831, the
day Scott wrote his letter to the Senator, nullification and secession had become
intertwined in the minds of his friends and neighbors.36 Priestly Mangum further advised
his brother "not to go ahead of public opinion" in support of nullification. "Nothing short
of tangible oppression would wean them from the Union," the younger Mangum wrote.
Priestly implied that the average voter was incapable of comprehending the abstruse
constitutional theories that politicians loved to expound. His brother should avoid
outbursts about "unconstitutional resistance" and stick to common platitudes and standard
recriminations, using language that could be broadly defined and easily understood. 7
75 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
36 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:432.
37 Ibid., 1:450.

154
On February 7 and 8, 1832, Willie Mangum delivered his first major speech to the
United States Senate. It came as the body was debating Henry Clay's combined efforts
to reconfigure the existing tariff schedule and distribute proceeds from the sale of public
land to the individual states. The debate, which had been going on since the preceding
December, divided politicians along sectional rather than party lines, partly because Clay
had failed to convince potential southern supporters like Mangum that the tariff he
proposed was a revenue bill. The Kentuckian's scheme to unite western and southern
opponents of the administration was temporarily halted. ’" His determination to push the
tariff bill through the Senate despite southern reservations bothered Mangum, who was
beginning to see the darker side of a man he had once greatly admired. "Mr. Clay's
course has but little of dignity," Mangum observed. "He is sore & irritable & in truth 7
. . . revoltingly coarse - with little of that high & elevated feeling that I once supposed
never deserted him." He continued: "I regard him as the most dangerous man in the
country and I am sorry to say, against all my former opinions of him, that I strongly
suspect him to be wholly unprincipled."39
Mangum's friends in Washington looked forward to his speech, but not the nervous
Senator, who began his remarks by confessing his "unfeigned reluctance to participate in
38 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 58-60; Russo, "The Major Political Issues of
the Jacksonian Period," p. 8.
’9 Willie P. Mangum to James Iredell, 11 February 1832, James Iredell Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.

155
this debate."40 While the intellectual Calhoun spoke to constitutional scholars and other
learned individuals, the pragmatist Mangum spoke to the masses. His speech was intended
for public consumption and his plan was to cast the debate in simple economic terms. He
sought to give meaning to an issue that had little resonance with the rank and file but
meant a great deal to the elite. He also wanted to appeal to their patriotism.
Protectionists, Mangum reasoned, not the advocates of free trade, were the greatest
menace to the Union. Motivated by greed and unmoved by suffering, they were
"undermining the fabric of our noble institutions."41 The tariff, as Mangum put it. was
more than a sectional issue; it was a class issue as well. Recalling anti-party themes and
the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian republic, he denounced the "monopolists,
capitalists, and adventuring politicians who divide among themselves the richest spoils . . .
and throw but a crumb - if indeed so much - to the mere serfs of party.”42 The villains he
spoke of knew no sectional boundaries. They could be found living on plantations along
the Gulf Coast as surely as in the mansions along Fifth Avenue in New York City.
"Where is the justice of taxing millions of the poor to swell the already overgrown wealth
of a few hundred sugar planters in Louisiana?"43 The heroes of Mangum's morality play
40 For quote see. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:519; The entire speech
has been reprinted in, ibid., 5:519-562; Isaac Tomkins to Charlotte Tomkins, 30 January
1832, Isaac Tomkins Letters, Southern Historical Collection, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill.
41 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:520.
42 Ibid., 5:543.
43 Ibid., 5:536.

156
were the small farmers, both northern and southern, unfairly burdened by an unjust tariff.
Despite Mangum's reference to southern capitalists, most of the speech evinced an
anti-northern bias. He referred repeatedly to the injustices that elements of the North had
inflicted against "the agricultural and planting states," which, in his parlance, meant the
South. Southerners, specifically poor whites and small farmers, paid a disproportionate
share of the taxes levied by the federal government. Despite divine blessings — a mild
climate and fertile soil, for example — the Southern states had succumbed to economic
hardship, the result, Mangum asserted, of Northern rapacity. "The unequal action of the
Government has more than counterbalanced the bounties of Providence - that those
delightful regions of the South, upon which Heaven seemed to have smiled with
beneficence, are silently passing into decay and sterility." Meanwhile, Mangum
continued, "the frozen North is unlocking its arms to receive the fruits of our industry."
The North, in his eyes, had countermanded the will of God.44
As for the prospect of developing an industrial base in the South, as Clay had
suggested in his attempt to coax southern support for the measure, Mangum was not
sanguine. Slave labor, he claimed, was "too careless" to be trusted with the intricate tasks
associated with factory work. In addition, the South did not have the natural resources and
transportation networks needed to manufacture goods and transport them to market. He
went on to say that cavernous factories, like those in the North, would be unbearably hot
during the southern summers. Finally, he said thankfully, the South lacked the "half-
44
Ibid., 5:541.

157
starved, beggared and dependent population," common to Northern ghettos and necessary
to work the factories. His image of an exploitative, grasping, parasitic North, living off
"wage slaves" and Southern farmers, reflected a sentiment common to the southern
gentry.45
Keeping in mind his brother's admonition to keep clear and simple his references
to the constitution, Willie Mangum stuck to a literal interpretation of the document, not
once alluding to the complex theories of his hero, John Calhoun. Mangum conceded the
constitutionality of protective tariffs. He contended, however, that they were only to be
used as "temporary expedients" to combat the unfair trading practices of foreign nations.46
Once said practices were rescinded the United States should resume a policy of free trade.
The present system had not emerged from a trade war. This tariff, he said with derision,
was designed to protect forty-year-old infant industries. As such, it was unconstitutional.47
Any further application of the power to regulate trade carried with it dangerous
consequences. Using Mangum's line of thought, the protectionist's argument, taken to its
logical extreme, guaranteed the American government the right to regulate foreign trade
out of existence. "For if you have the power to 'regulate commerce' for the purpose of
protecting domestic manufacturing," Mangum cautioned, "you have the whole unrestrained
45 Ibid., 5:557-58.
46 Ibid., 5:533.
47
Ibid., 5:332-35.

158
power for that purpose, and to effectuate that purpose completely, you must push the
power of regulation to - extinction."48
Lest he be confused with the very same sectionalists he had been condemning,
Mangum declared that in the end all but the very wealthy suffer under the present system.
Laborers in the North must pay more for life's necessities than if they could trade on the
free market. Taxes imposed on imported goods are paid in by those who can least afford
the added outlay. Manufacturers are enriched at the expense of their customers and the
national treasury is expanded at the expense of liberty.49 Unless they reform the tariff,
Mangum warned, the republic will suffer and, perhaps, die. Wealth will become
concentrated in the hands of the few and the state, with its coffers filled beyond need, will
grow more powerful. He ended his speech by taking a stab at the president. The people
of North Carolina, he stated, had been aware of Jackson's protectionist leanings since 1824
but accepted him nevertheless. "Loving him as we do. admiring him as we must, revering
him as we ought, and confiding in him as we still delight to do, we, nevertheless always
remembered his opinion on this subject with great regret."5" But the Tariff Bill of 1832
seemed excessive and Mangum's words imply warning. The tariff was not an issue
Mangum could take to his constituents to justify his break with the president.
Nevertheless, he wanted Jackson to know that his patience was wearing thin and that the
48 Ibid., 5:524.
49 Ibid., 5:522, 548-50.
50
Ibid., 5:561.

159
president had to show his good faith or else Mangum would join the growing ranks of the
opposition.
Mangum's address lasted five hours and was delivered over the course of two days.
After he finished, he retreated to his room feeling "excited, feverish, & slightly
indisposed." Modesty demanded that he remain subdued when reporting the event to his
wife Charity. "I was not exactly pleased with my own effort," he wrote afterward. He
did, however, allow the opinions of his colleagues speak for him. "I have reason to
believe," he added, "that the universal opinion of the Senate is that it was eloquent &
powerful."51 Supporters elsewhere shared this opinion. "Your speech on the tariff,"
Warren County Justice of the Peace Francis Jones told the Senator, "[was] a bold & manly
defense of Southern interests."5’ Condy Raguet, editor of the Philadelphia Banner, also
liked the speech, so much so that he reprinted it. He too thought it "eloquent" and
"manly."53 Mangum made sure his words reached as wide an audience as possible by
mailing free copies to all who asked. The police commissioner of Fayetteville, a retired
Commoner, lawyers from Oxford and Hillsborough, indeed anyone who cared to read the
speech received a transcription. In order to make the tariff a topic of public concern
Mangum had to cultivate it carefully. This meant insuring that his version of the debate
received the widest circulation.54
51 Ibid., 1:478.
52 Ibid., 1:551.
53 Ibid., 2:3.
54Ibid., 1:524, 527, 528, 529, 530, 570.

160
Mangum failed to convince everyone in his state that the tariff worked to their
detriment. "1 can assure you as far as my knowledge extends," John Long wrote from his
home in Long Mills, North Carolina, "you are quite mistaken in supposing that the people
of No. Ca. are so hostile to the tariff." The Randolph County farmer added that Mangum
was mistaken to assume that the tariff injured the poor and insinuated that the Senator was
out of touch and therefore unqualified to speak for them.55 Like so many of his fellow Tar
Heels, William Haywood, Jr. saw the debate as a contest between moderates who
advocated "mutual concession" and nullificationists who would rather see the union
dismembered than submit to compromise.56
Conflicting signals from home could very well have added to Mangum's sense of
despair. As the session dragged into May and June, Mangum wondered if an agreement
would ever be hammered out. On May 12, 1832, he informed his wife that both sides
were paralyzed by fear, "apprehensive of the fatal consequences of a false movement on
the subject."57 Twelve days later he reported that the stalemate continued; the interminable
session showed no sign of ending.5* Curiously, he pictured an entirely different scene to
Duncan Cameron. On the same day he wrote the second letter to his wife, Mangum told
his old patron that the tariff would be modified in such a way as to "tranquilize . . . the
excitement existing in the South." Congress, he stated with confidence, would adjourn on
55 Ibid., 1:531.
56 Ibid., 1:554.
57 Ibid., 1:545.
58
Ibid., 1:546.

161
July 3 or 4.59 The reasons for the disparities between one letter and the next are unclear,
but the pattern of sad, forlorn letters between the two established early in the relationship
may account for them. Whenever he sat down to write to his wife, he may very well have
been overcome by the reality that he was so far from her, a reunion seemingly so far off
in the distant future. Her pregnancy may also explain his melancholy, fearing as he did
missing the birth of another child. After months of deliberation. Congress agreed to
reduce the tariff to the 1824 levels. On July 14, 1832, President Jackson signed the bill
into law. Breaking with the leader of his party, Mangum, along with many of his southern
brethren, voted against the bill.'’1' On July 12, 1832, Mangum raised his final objection
on the floor of the Senate. "It is not enough that the revenue was reduced, for the bill
carried out the odious principle of inequality," he said, recalling the populist tone of his
February speech. "The rich would be indulged in their luxury without taxation, whilst the
poor were heavily burdened." He understood that men had compromised their principles
for the good of the Union to satisfy divergent economic and sectional interests. This he
would not do, for the bill, as he saw it, set a precedent for protection. Even the relatively
low rates of the 1832 measure had become abhorrent to the lapsed moderate. Stubborn
and unyielding, his words reflect the passions unleashed over the previous six months. "Its
principle," he finally said of the new tariff, "was to do evil, that good might result."hl
59 Ibid., 1:548.
60 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 58-60.
61 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 22nd Cong., 1 Sess., p.
1291.

162
Ignoring warnings from his friends and family, the Senator jumped ahead of public
opinion. During the next year he would reign in his temper, pursue a middle course, and
distance himself from John Calhoun and the nullifiers.
Jackson's victory in the presidential election of 1832 set off the second, more
volatile stage of the tariff debate. Within days after the people of the nation had reelected
the Tennessean, nullifiers in South Carolina assembled in the state capital to determine
their response. Reacting to perceived threats from abolitionist movements in the North and
lean economic times, the convention declared the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 "null and void"
within state limits, the measure to take effect on February 1, 1833. The proclamation
unleased a fury throughout the nation and in the White House. Jackson responded at once.
Despite private utterances about hanging Calhoun and his allies, he acted with calm
deliberation. Sending reinforcements to two of the forts in Charleston Harbor and revenue
cutters to patrol the port, the president also directed General Winfield Scott to plan a
military riposte in case the South Carolinians escalated the conflict. The nullifiers made
no offensive move, but refused to rescind their policy. The crisis deepened as leaders
everywhere took sides. Uppermost were questions pertaining to sovereignty in a federal
republic; specifically, where did it ultimately reside, who was supreme in cases involving
conflicting interpretations of the constitution, and what recourse did individual states have
in such disputes?62
62 Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, pp. ix-x, 1-2.

163
As a proponent of states rights, Mangum viewed the crisis with special interest.
Generally, he sympathized with the anti-tariff ideals expressed by the conferees. He did
not agree with their methods. On September 19, 1832, at a public meeting in
Hillsborough, Mangum, responding to reports that he was a nullifier, forcefully repudiated
the theory. Regardless, rivals branded him a nullifier.h3 Left unchecked, this allegation
might have done irreparable harm to Mangum's political career. North Carolinians, by
and large, vehemently opposed Calhoun's doctrine. Mangum and others had turned some
Tar Heels against high tariffs, but that is where their hostility ended. Only in isolated
pockets of western North Carolina, centered primarily in the town of Salisbury, was there
any support for nullification. Elsewhere in the state, folks expressed little sympathy for
the farmers to the south who had just begun to deal with the problems associated with
declining soil fertility. Most farmers in North Carolina had lived with these uncertainties
for generations. Fewer slaves also made them less apprehensive about abolitionism.
Given this political climate, Mangum had to choose his words carefully as he commented
on events in South Carolina and Washington, D.C.64
On December 10, 1832, Andrew Jackson issued his formal response to the
nullifiers. The Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, written by Secretary of State
Edward Livingston, seemed to be little more than a strongly-worded reprimand. The
63 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:581: 2:28: Hillsborough Recorder. 14
October 1832.
64 Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p. 204; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics,
p. 39; Hoffman. Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 66; Western Carolinian
(Salisbury), 1 October 1832.

164
administration, the fiat implied, would brook no compromise. It impugned the ordinance
as "incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of
the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it
was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed."65 The
nationalistic decree included phrasing that undermined the fundamental tenets of states
rights philosophy. His threat to use everything within his power, including force if need
be, to bring South Carolina to his point of view provoked outrage in some parts of the
South. Reluctant converts to the president's creed, former Crawfordites like Mangum, for
example, viewed this declaration as evidence that the General was poorly advised and as
such, untrustworthy and unpredictable.66 Jackson's call to arms did more to solidify
opposition parties in North Carolina and across the South than had nullification. Mangum,
however, was still unconvinced that the time had come to abandon the administration.
Although suspicious of Jackson’s motives, he nonetheless would not openly break with the
hero. Privately, he did not try to contain his displeasure. Writing hastily by the light of
a dying candle, he conveyed his thoughts to his wife. Again, the target of Mangum's
recriminations was the cabinet, not the president. "The weak & foolish Cabinet of the
65 James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the
Presidents. 1789-1902 11 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1903-
1907), 2:643.
66 Richardson, Messages and Papers. 2:640-656; Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p.
267; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, pp. 63-64; Watson,
Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 130; Ellis, The Union at Risk, p. 85;
McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy' in 1836?" p. 50; John Ashworth, "Agrarians"
& "Aristocrats": Party Ideology in the United Sates. 1837-1846 (New York: Cambridge
University Press, 1983), p. 238.

165
President has undone all the good that we hoped from his message," he wrote, suggesting
knowledge of an earlier draft of the proclamation. "The proclamation," he concluded, "is
violent & dangerous in its principles."67 So distraught was he over the possibility of using
force against his fellow southerners that he contemplated resigning from the Senate so as
not to be a party to what he believed to be an appalling injustice.6X
Like Mangum, the leading political figures in North Carolina chose to act with
caution. Few dared to speak openly in favor of Calhoun's doctrine, Charles Fisher and
James Iredell being the exceptions. Fewer still sanctioned Jackson's hard-line response.
Most favored the path taken by the General Assembly.69 On December 28, 1832, the
upper chamber pronounced the doctrine of nullification "revolutionary in its character,
subversive of the constitution, and leads to a dissolution of the Union."711 The House of
Commons used even harsher language in a resolution issued three days later. Denouncing
nullification in the same words used by the Senate, members of the lower house went on
to say that the present tariff was, "unwise, unequal in their operation, and oppressive to
the Southern states." They instructed their representatives in the United States Senate to
"procure a peaceable adjustment" to the crisis.71 Conservatives in the legislature, of which
67 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:589.
68 Ibid., 1:591.
69 Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 38; Ellis, The Union at Risk, p. 159.
70 North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the Senate (Raleigh: State Printer,
1832), p. 99.
1 North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons (Raleigh:
State Printer, 1832), pp. 224-25, 257.

166
there were many, had sounded their disapproval of protective tariffs, nullification, and the
use of force without alienating the popular president or their old ally, John Calhoun. They
had assumed the middle ground, refusing to countenance extremism on either side.
On January 16, 1833, Jackson drew Congress into his feud with South Carolina
when his Revenue Collection Bill, a measure first outlined in his December 10 speech, was
introduced to the House of Representatives and Senate. A request for supplementary
military powers to collect import duties, detractors referred to the bill by the epithets,
"Force" or "Bloody" Bill. After the message had been read into the official record.
Senator Felix Grundy motioned that it be referred to the Judiciary Committee, one
dominated by nationalists, protectionists, and friends of the president. Willie Mangum
stood out as the lone member to exhibit empathy for the South Carolinians. Five days
after receiving the bill, the Judiciary Committee made its report to the full Senate. As
expected, the body recommended it as submitted.The next day, January 22, 1833,
Mangum made an appeal as the only member of the committee to oppose the use of force.
Seeking to delay consideration of the bill, Mangum informed the Senate that he was ill and
asked that they adjourn until he was well enough to make a speech. Three Senators rose
to protest Mangum's request, which was summarily denied.73 Failing an indefinite
postponement, he implored his colleagues to "deliberate slowly and cautiously," certain
that granting Jackson the authority to use military force would "shake the ancient character
72 Ellis, The Union at Risk, pp. 160-62; Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, p. 75.
73 Claude G. Bowers, Party Battles of the Jackson Period (New York: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1922), pp. 271-72.

167
of our institutions to their very foundations." The measure, he added, "carried out too
fully the principles of the old Federalist Party and contained much that was odious and
dangerous to republican liberty." He stood against the administration not as a nullifier,
but as a defender of the rights of the states against federal tyranny. "Any power not
specifically delegated to the federal government," he argued in a classic states rights vein,
"are reserved for the state."74
When supporters again moved to begin debate on the bill, Mangum tried once more
to kill it. On January 28, he called for a vote on the question of tabling the Force Bill.
The motion put southern unity to a test. Administration forces lined up against an array
of nullifiers and states rights men who, although opposed to nullification, stood with South
Carolina in her battle against the tariff. The Jackson stalwarts won by a vote of 30 to 15
and the debate was slated to begin February 1. Thirteen of the fifteen votes against the
bill, however, came from Southern Senators, giving hope to proponents of regional
unity.75 Mangum did not see it that way. "I fear we shall make war upon [South
Carolina]," he wrote Charity the day after debate had begun. "
Onlookers in Washington watched a "war of giants" unfold as the Senate debated the
Force Bill. Calhoun, Clay, and Daniel Webster were all expected to take the floor. One
contemporary added Mangum’s name to this list of "giants," a sign of the North
74 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 22nd Cong., 2 Sess., pp.
174-175.
75 Ellis, The Union at Risk, p. 162.
7ft Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:18.

168
Carolinians own notoriety.^ As the Senate argued over Jackson's "stick," Clay fashioned
a "carrot," in the form of a new tariff, acceptable to Calhoun and his followers. Clay and
Calhoun met privately to hammer out the details of the new tariff. The only other person
in attendance was their mutual friend and principal go-between, Willie Mangum. After
the meeting Calhoun gave Clay some breathing room by suspending his ordinance until
Congress finished debating the Kentuckian's recommendations. On February 12, Clay
introduced his compromise bill. It proposed gradually reduced rates on protected items
over a span of ten years. By 1842, Clay projected, the highest rates would not exceed
twenty percent. Southerners welcomed the concessions and many, including Mangum,
took an active role plugging the bill in both houses of Congress. All that remained was
for Congress to figure out if Jackson should use a carrot, a stick, or both, in dealing with
South Carolina. A heavy-handed approach promised to please nationalists and
protectionists in the North and East but would have frightened off his friends in the South.
The debates that month, therefore, promised to have far-reaching consequences for party
alignments throughout the nation.7S
As unpopular as nullification was with most people outside South Carolina, it was
little wonder that the Senate voted to pass the Revenue Collection (or Force) Bill by a vote
77 (unnamed) Campbell to James Campell, 24 January 1833, Special Collections, Duke
University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
HThe terms "carrot" and "stick" have been used to describe the compromise tariff of
1833 and Force Bill, respectively, in Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 73-78; W.
Edwin Hemphill et al., eds.. The Papers of John C. Calhoun. 20 vols. (Columbia;
University of South Carolina Press, 1959-1991), 16:319-324; Freehling, Prelude to Civil
War, pp. 2-3, 292-93.

169
of 32 to one on February 20, 1833. Only John Tyler, a rigid states rights doctrinaire from
Virginia, went on record as opposing the popular legislation. Many southern Senators,
including Willie Mangum and Bedford Brown of North Carolina, abstained in an
agreement whereby Northern opponents of the new tariff would withhold their votes when
the time came to vote on that bill. That day came for the House of Representatives on
February 26, when Clay's compromise tariff passed 119 to 85 with nearly unanimous
support from the South and strong opposition from the Northeast, notably New England.
Senators seconded the will of the House on March 1, passing the new tariff by a vote of
29 in favor and 16 against. The regional split in the House carried over into the Senate
vote. Mangum voted with the majority.79 On the day of the vote he praised the actions
of Clay, who had just been redeemed in his eyes. "I rose," he said from his desk in the
Senate chamber, "to return my thanks to my honorable friends, through whose zealous
efforts this glorious consummation has been brought about." Clay, he continued, had
"restore[d] peace and harmony to the country," and should receive therefore "the deep and
lasting gratitude of [his] fellow citizens."80 A rift between friends created by one tariff had
been mended by another.
On March 2, 1833, Andrew Jackson signed both bills into law. The crisis had
passed without bloodshed, an outcome Mangum had once thought likely. But the
,9 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Fra, pp. 77-78; Freehling, Prelude to Civil War, p.
293; Ellis, The Union at Risk, p. 171.
80 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 22nd Cong., 2 Sess., p.
800.

170
president's plan to broaden his base of support by enacting a moderately protective tariff
palatable to New England, a plan that began with the Tariff of 1828 and continued with
the Tariff of 1832, had backfired. Southern Democrats felt cheated, abandoned by a man
they had once called their own. In North Carolina the pattern was the same. Clay had
emerged a hero. Every member of the state delegation in Washington supported his
compromise tariff. Press and public hailed him as a savior. Jackson, on the other hand,
had lost the support of many states rights moderates in North Carolina. Along with the
supporters of John Branch, who had abandoned the General after the cabinet realignment,
these people comprised a sizable opposition movement. Jackson would never regain his
lock hold on the voters of the Old North State.81
By way of contrast, Willie Mangum continued to enjoy broad support at home.
The election of his brother Priestly to the State Senate in 1832 added to Willie’s influence
with state and local politicians. He kept in close touch with these men, advising them on
national issues, listening to their ideas about state politics, and campaigning for those
seeking office. His ties to state railroad developers and bankers strengthened during the
years 1832 and 1833. Still opposed to federally funded internal improvements projects,
he did support efforts to finance railroad construction using state money in North Carolina.
X1 Peter B. Knupfer, The Union as It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional
Compromise. 1787-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), p. 104;
Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, p. 79; Ellis, The Union at Risk, p. ix; Hoffman,
Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, pp. 45, 65, 67-68, 116; Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum. 1:475; Hoffman, "John Branch," p. 314.

171
In the Fall of 1833, he attended an internal improvements convention in Hillsborough,
further proof of his desire to expand the base of the state economy/2
Still Mangum remained, at least in public statements, loyal to Jackson. By the end
of 1833, he counted himself among his backers. This, however, would soon change.
Jackson's fight over the tariff and, more importantly, his truculent handling of the
nullitlers, diminished the General in the eyes of Mangum, pushing him in the direction of
the opposition. His battle with the Second Bank of the United States placed Mangum
firmly in that fold. Not one to jettison friends easily, Willie Mangum would stay with
Jackson until he began to believe that the President no longer acted in the best interests of
the republic. Mangum could also see that his constituents, the lifeblood of his career, had
grown suspicious of the General and his handpicked heir, Martin Van Burén. Answering
the calls of both principle and pragmatism, Mangum would renounce his leader within a
year of the compromise tariff vote after Jackson declared war on the National Bank."
82 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:420, 427, 449-50, 446-49. 461, 499,
508, 550, 558, 586; 2:5, 9-10, 22, 36; United States Congress, Register of Debates in
Congress. 22nd Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 953, 1282; Carolyn A. Daniel, "David Lowry Swain,
1801-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1954), p.
314.
83 William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay. 1776-1854 (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 296.

CHAPTER 6
ANTIPARTY PARTISAN
On February 5, 1834, Daniel Webster read into the official record a report critical
of the administration's policy of removing federal deposits from the Bank of the United
States and placing the funds in various state banks. After one of Webster's allies moved
that the Senate print six thousand additional copies of the Finance Committee report,
several Jacksonians rose in protest. Willie Mangum used this outburst to make public a
fact his most intimate associates had known for months: He had lost confidence in the
administration and wished to sever his ties with Jackson. But first Mangum had to refocus
the issue in a way that would win the sympathy of a constituency largely indifferent to the
fate of the Bank of the United States. "The question is not, nor never was, 'bank or no
bank,"' he admonished the protesters, "the question was emphatically 'law or no law -
constitution or no constitution.'"1 Three weeks later, he again spoke before the full
Senate, this time on the pretext of introducing another in a series of petitions from citizens
in North Carolina protesting the removal of deposits. Again, Mangum invoked the
popular theme of law and order. Now he added a second— antiparty ism. "The whole
struggle here," he told the Senate, "is to take public money from the place designated by
1 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 1st sess., pp.
472-473; See also, ibid., p. 467 and, appendix, pp. 146-56.
172

173
law, and give the use of it to certain affiliated banks, that must, of necessity, be more or
less controlled by a political party.The General's lawlessness, Mangum concluded, was
an unavoidable consequence of his partisanship. Over the next decade he would repeat the
themes of antipartyism and law and order in nearly every statement he made about his
rivals. The break was final. With his defection, Mangum brought the prestige of the
United States Senate to his state's anti-Jackson movement. His talents and political
connections helped transform it from a minority to a majority party. To achieve these,
however, he and his confederates had to convince voters to set aside their hostility to
partisanship, while they themselves continued to condemn parties as unrepublican.
Ultimately, Mangum and his allies would establish a party founded on a paradox: an
organization opposed to organizing, managed by politicians doling out patronage for the
sake of ridding the government of "spoilsmen," in sum, a political party ostensibly
dedicated to the eradication of political parties.
The war between Andrew Jackson and the Second Bank of the United States began
long before Mangum sounded his disapproval of administration policy. Shortly after he
assumed the presidency in 1829, Jackson confided to a friend that he planned to revamp
the Bank. The new Chief Executive held conservative views of banking and currency, and
he steadfastly opposed cheap credit and paper money. More importantly, he believed that
the Bank and its president, Nicholas Biddle, exercised too much power, and that Biddle
had used the influence of the Bank against Jackson during the presidential election
: Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 5:568.

174
campaign of 1828. Bowing to pressure from his pro-Bank allies in the North, especially
Pennsylvania, Jackson restrained his impulse to destroy the institution outright. Instead,
he would allow its charter to expire, at which time he would propose a replacement, tied
directly to the United States Treasury with no power to issue notes or make loans. The
charter was to expire in 1836. Aware of Jackson's intentions and the delicate ties he had
to the North, the National Republicans, led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, conspired
with Biddle to force the issue in time for the presidential election of 1832. Accordingly,
on March 13, 1832, Clay introduced to the Senate a bill to recharter the Bank with only
modest alterations to its existing form.3
Before Clay submitted the Recharter Bill, Thomas Cadwalader, a close associate
of Biddle, surveyed members of the Senate to learn the mood of the body as it related to
the Bank. He found general support for the bill, but identified ten men likely to oppose
it if it were to come to a vote in 1832. Among those who would rather the Bank question
be deferred until after the election was Willie Mangum.4 His statements about the Bank
and its recharter betray an ambivalence reconciled only by his penchant for expediency.
3 For the best general account of the "Bank War" see, Bray Hammond, Banks and
Politics in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War. (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1957), pp. 326-420; See also, Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian
Era: 1828-1848. (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1959), pp. 62-65; Robert V.
Remini, "Election of 1832," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William
P. Hansen, eds., History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4 vols. (New
York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:499-500.
4 Claude G. Bowers, Party Battles in the Jackson Period. (New York: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1922), pp. 210-11; Thomas Payne Govan, Nicholas Biddle: Nationalist
and Public Banker, 1786-1844. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1959), p. 166.

175
On January 19, 1832, he confided to William Gaston, who was in Raleigh at the time, that
he "regretted that the U.S. Bank has come before Congress this session." Although
Mangum considered "the continuance of that institution as of almost indispensable
necessity," he did not want to defy public opinion, which remained pro-Jackson.
Postponing recharter till the next session, Mangum believed, would enable proponents to
redraft the bill to conform to Jackson's specifications. Mangum thought this highly
unlikely, however, for the General and his opponents, he observed, were engaged in a
battle of wills, and neither showed a desire to yield.5
Mangum surmised correctly the will of his constituency when he decided to side
with the President on the recharter question. North Carolinians, like their representative
in the Senate, had mixed feelings about the Bank. It did offer much needed paper
currency to a state chronically short of money, as some leading Tar Heels pointed out.
James Iredell informed Mangum "that the Bank is at this time very popular in our state -
I believe, indeed I know, it has done us vast good and as yet we have felt no evils from
it."6 Duncan Cameron thought a centralized banking system an asset, not only to the
people of North Carolina, but to the nation as a whole.7 Planters, speculators, and others
5 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:455-56; Edith Josephine Houston, "The
Bank of the United States and Willie P. Mangum," (M.A. thesis, Appalachian State
Teachers College, 1960), p. 1.
6 Elizabeth S. Hoyt, "Reactions in North Carolina to Jackson's Banking Policy, 1829-
1832," North Carolina Historical Review 25 (1948): 170; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 1:472.
7Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:549.

176
engaged in the market economy profited from low-cost loans and stock dividends paid by
the Bank. Mangum did not ignore these important constituents. On March 19, 1832,
disregarding his own position, he submitted a petition signed by "a large number of the
inhabitants of Granville County" demanding the Bank be rechartered.K More often than
not, however, he acted on behalf of the majority. Small farmers, by far the largest portion
of his constituency, generally shared Jackson's preference for specie, silver and gold, over
inflationary paper notes. Gold mining operations in western North Carolina made hard
currency popular there. The Salisbury Western Carolinian even proclaimed that the Bank
was unconstitutional, a cry made familiar by Nathaniel Macon, who had opposed the Bank
throughout his forty-year career. To be sure, the Bank of the United States had gained
popularity in North Carolina since the days of Nathaniel Macon. Still, Mangum knew that
the public was not going to turn against Jackson over this issue.9
As the battle intensified, Mangum began to size up the strength of the combatants.
"Almost the whole of the South will, in the Senate, be opposed," he informed William
Polk, predicting that only Louisiana's and Alabama's two Senators and one each from
8 Quoted in, Hoyt, "Reactions in North Carolina to Jackson's Banking Policy,” p. 169.
9 Hoyt, "Reactions in North Carolina to Jackson's Banking Policy," pp. 170-73; Arthur
C. Cole, The Whig Party in the South. (Washington, D.C.; American Historical
Association, 1913), pp. 25-26; Herbert Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina.
(Chapel Hill; Colonial Press, 1968), pp. 7-8; William E. Dodd, The Life of Nathaniel
Macon. (Raleigh; Edwards & Broughton, 1903), p. 383; Max R. Williams, "The
Foundations of the Whig Party in North Carolina: A Synthesis and a Modest Proposal,"
North Carolina Historical Review 47 (1970): 118; Edward Pessen, Jacksonian America:
Society. Personality, and Politics. (Rev. ed. Homewood Ill.: The Dorsey Press, 1978),
p. 230.

177
North Carolina and Georgia would vote to recharter the Bank. He was only partly correct:
just three Southern Senators ultimately supported the Bank.111 His imperfect powers of
observation included more than just an ability to tally votes. Mangum exhibited a keen
knowledge of the personalities he dealt with in Washington. He saw, for example, that
the Bank question had gone well beyond a simple matter of public policy, taking on a
deeply personal dimension. Jackson, he told Polk, "may regard (the recharter battle] as
a trial of strength between his popularity & that of the institution - he will not shrink from
the contest."11 Mangum well understood well the president's caste of mind. He knew that
he was not a man to trifle with. Jackson would do anything he could to defeat the Bank.
"The United States Bank question ... is now before the Congress," Mangum wrote
Cameron just before the bill came up for its final vote, predicting, correctly this time, that
it "will pass both branches - I think it will be vetoed.”12
As Mangum divined, the Bill cleared in both houses of Congress. On June 11, and
then again on July 3, the Senate and House, respectively, voted to pass Clay's Bank
rechartering bill. Both Senator Mangum and his colleague, Senator Bedford Brown of
North Carolina, voted with the minority against passage. Nine of the thirteen members
of the North Carolina contingent in the House of Representatives joined Mangum, Brown,
10 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:481; William J. Cooper, Jr., The South
and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1978), p. 50.
11 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:481.
12 Ibid., 1:548.

178
and, more importantly, the president. The President vetoed the bill on July 10, 1832,
which the opposition failed to override. Still, they could claim a moral victory. Clay and
Webster had succeeded in making the Bank a partisan issue that proved almost as weighty
as Jackson's character. During the presidential election of 1832, National Republicans
portrayed the president as a reckless usurper who had crippled a valued institution and
trampled on the Constitution in the process. Jackson rejoined with allegations that the
Bank demoralized republican society by injecting into the democratic process the power
of money and the influence of the speculators and commercial interests. He now asserted
that the Bank was unconstitutional and privately vowed to destroy it. While the battle over
rechartering the Bank and the subsequent veto did little to define national alliances, the
president's next move in the Bank war, removing the deposits, would clarify them beyond
doubt.13
In November 1832, Jackson began his final assault on the Second Bank of the
United States. He reported to his cabinet that he believed the Bank to be in danger of
collapse and urged that they begin the process of removing government funds at once.
Next, he asked the House of Representatives to investigate. It did so in March 1833,
13 Hoyt, "Reactions in North Carolina to Jackson’s Banking Policy," pp. 167, 169,
174; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p. 8; Remini, "Election of 1832," pp. 498,
500, 509, 511; James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of
the Presidents. 1789-1902 11 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature and Art,
1903-1907), 2:576-91; Robert E. Shalhope, "Thomas Jefferson's Republicanism and
Antebellum Southern Thought," Journal of Southern History 42 (1976):544; David J.
Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period and the Development of Party
Loyalty in Congress, 1830-1840," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 62
(1972):30-31.

179
concluding that the Bank was in fact a secure repository for the government's funds.
Nonetheless, Jackson ordered Secretary of the Treasury Louis McLane to withdraw the
deposits and place them elsewhere. McLane refused, citing congressional opposition as
his reason. Jackson then reassigned McLane to the State Department, a move he had been
contemplating for some time, and replaced him with William J. Duane. He too balked,
pointing to the House report and telling Jackson that the state banks chosen by his
administration were even more tenuous and unstable than the central facility. Again
Jackson refused to heed advice. Attorney General Roger B. Taney, who had first advised
the president to remove the funds, then replaced Duane in September 1833. As Secretary
of the Treasury, Taney paid government expenses with capital drawn from the Second
Bank of the United States but placed none of its new revenue there. Instead, the so-called
"pet banks," several state institutions selected by the administration and located in major
cities, collected the funds. During the winter of 1833-34, Jackson accelerated the process
by removing the deposits outright.14
Commercial interests in the Northeast reacted angrily to the president’s policy and
anti-administration politicians from the region warned of the dire consequences that would
accompany the decentralization of the banking system. Jackson had never been as popular
with Northern voters as he had been in the South and West. Now he was vilified as never
before. Differences among his opponents, however, continued to forestall efforts at party
14 Hammond, Banks and Politics in America, pp. 412-19; Van Deusen, The Jacksonian
Era. 80-84; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson. (Boston; Little, Brown and
Company, 1945), pp. 97-102.

180
building. John Quincy Adams seemed amazed by the diversity of the anti-Jacksonians in
the North. Antimasons, Federalists, and disenchanted Democrats from Pennsylvania and
elsewhere, each with their own philosophies, local identities, and leaders, filled the
growing ranks of the opposition. Only their fear of Jackson and his likely heir, Martin
Van Burén, held them together. The two, northern opponents declared, willfully violated
the law when they went after the Bank, an institution worthy of recharter.15
The outcry in the South was very different. Leaders there knew that the Bank itself
had few friends, so they focused instead on legal and constitutional questions raised by
removal, specifically that of "executive usurpation." The complaint brought together
nationalists and advocates of states rights, who agreed that Jackson and Taney had acted
without Congressional consent when they removed funds from the Bank. And by so
doing, they concluded, the president had breached the authority mandated him in the
Constitution. Henry Clay added that Jackson now commanded an even deeper reservoir
of patronage through his control of the "pet" banks, suggesting this would foster even
more corruption. Willing to back Jackson on the question of rechartering the Bank and
remaining in his corner after the veto. Southern leaders like Mangum felt he had gone too
far by removing the deposits. They interpreted his policy as augmenting the power of the
15 Thomas Brown, Politics and Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party.
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), pp. 157-58; Pessen, Jacksonian America.
pp. 201-202.

181
federal government at the expense of the states. For Mangum and tens of thousands other
states rights men in the South, this proved to be unforgivable.16
When the senate reconvened in December 1833, opponents of the administration
moved quickly to take command of the all the key leadership positions. In what proved
to be their first test of solidarity, they voted to make committee assignment elective. Prior
to the time, the power to appoint committees was vested in the president pro tempore,
Hugh Lawson White, a Democrat. Having won that round, opposition forces began the
process of filling these posts. Anticipating a raucous session, Calhoun refused all
assignments so he would be free to devote all his energy to floor battles. Acting on the
same premise, Clay agreed to serve only on the relatively minor Committee on Public
Lands. Webster took charge of the Committee on Finance, the body expected to lead the
attack against Jackson. Made up to reflect the ideological and regional diversity of the
opposition, the committee included three northerners — Webster, Thomas Ewing of Ohio,
and William Wilkens of Pennsylvania — and two southerners — John Tyler of Virginia and
Willie Mangum. Of the five, only Wilkens remained firmly in Andrew Jackson's fold.1
Mangum liked working with Webster, even though the two often disagreed on matters of
16 Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p. 27, 281-82; Williams, "The Foundations of
the Whig Party in North Carolina," p. 119; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, pp. 157-
58; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the
Second Party System in Cumberland County North Carolina. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1981), p. 160; Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics
of Jacksonian America. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990), p. 156-57.
17 Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun. Nullifier. 1829-1839. (Indianapolis: The
Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1949), pp. 212-13; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 2:55-56.

182
policy. Gradually, however, Mangum came to respect both the man and his opinions.
"My committee duties bring me into almost daily intercourse with Mr. Webster," he wrote
of his new companion, "I meet with no gentleman who seems so deeply impressed with
a sense of impending general disaster." Frequent exchanges with the chairman clearly
influenced Mangum's thinking about the Bank and its role in the national economy and
drove him further still from the party of Jackson."
The time had come for the reluctant Jacksonian to break with his leader. Beginning
in December 1833, Willie Mangum wrote a series of long letters to his closest friends and
sympathetic officials in North Carolina delineating his new stand. In effect these were the
nineteenth-century equivalents to modern position papers. Despite bold lettering across
the top of many blazoning their confidentiality, these notes were probably intended for a
wide audience. "I hope you will show this hasty letter to no one," Mangum wrote
newspaper editor John Beard of the Salisbury Western Carolinian. "I should be ashamed
of the literary execution." As if giving Beard permission to make the contents known, he
added, "the principles contained in it are free to the world."19
On December 22, 1833, Mangum sent the first of these letters to Governor David
L. Swain. Before March 1833, the two had had little contact. Swain came to the office
of governor in 1832, a proponent of tax revision, public education, reforming the state
constitution, and railroad construction. Urging Mangum to take a greater role in state
18 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:75-76.
19 Ibid., 2:218; Mangum wrote several such letters during the years 1833 and 1834.
In additional to the selections cited below see, 2:240-47.

183
politics, Swain accompanied the Senator in the Fall of 1833 to an internal improvements
convention held in Hillsborough. Mangum had campaigned for Swain's brother-in-law,
Daniel Barringer, who repaid the kindness by bringing him closer to Swain. With his
December letter to Swain, Mangum entered a secret pact with the Governor. Together,
Mangum and Swain, along with John Branch, would unite diverse elements of the
opposition in North Carolina.20
"The present state of parties, and the great results that may be achieved by the
efforts of this Winter, & knowing that those efforts on the part of the Kitchen are
prodigious lead to this communication."21 So began Mangum's long journey into the
opposition camp. His communique sketched the events of the past session and their
probable consequences, ending with predictions for the next presidential election.
Mangum defined himself as a moderate, an independent determined to "check the . . .
absolute power" of Jackson and his allies.22 He announced that he would take the middle
ground between nullification and nationalism, the two poles upon which Jacksonian editors
disdainfully placed their enemies. Misconceptions such as these, Mangum observed.
20Carolyn A. Daniel, "David Lowry Swain, 1801-1835," (Ph. D. dissertation.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1954), p. 434-35; Harold J. Counihan, "The
North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835: A Study in Jacksonian Democracy,"
North Carolina Historical Review 46 (1969):357; Houston, "The Bank of the United States
and Willie P. Mangum," p. 55; Burton W. Folsom II, "Party Formation & Development
in Jacksonian America: The Old South," Journal of American Studies 7 (1973):222.
21Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:51.
22Ibid., 2:55.

184
would be the greatest obstacle to forming an anti-administration party in his home state. ''
Besides, he went on, the General remained an immensely popular figure in the South and
any attack on him may well be political suicide. Still, Mangum wrote, "my course is
taken - I shall give cordial support, where 1 can to the admn.: But I shall also give what
aid I can to the exposure of abuses."24 He closed by giving Swain permission to share his
letter with "friends or candid men" as he saw fit.25
For all his pretensions about safeguarding democracy and putting a stop to
executive tyranny, Mangum expressed a second, more practical motive for writing Swain.
If they entertained any hope of forming an alternative to the Democratic Party in North
Carolina, he told the Governor, then they had to find an issue around which they could
rally the masses. At the time, the state House of Commons was debating a resolution that,
if passed, would have instructed their Senators in Washington to do everything within their
power to recharter the Bank. Both Mangum and Swain knew this bill would not get
through the House. It never did. "The naked question of recharter is much weaker, I
presume, than the Deposite question - the battle should be fought on the latter," Mangum
figured. Still, the Bank would not do: It was too unpopular and too complex. After
considering his options and examining public opinion at home, he discovered an
alternative.25
23 Ibid., 2:52-55.
24 Ibid., 2:55.
25 Ibid., 2:56.
26 Ibid., 2:53.

185
On December 10, 1833, Henry Clay presented a bill to the Senate that would allow
for the distribution of the proceeds of public land sales to the states. Special consideration,
in the form of additional revenue, would be accorded those states from which that land
came. Now, Mangum argued, was the time to unite behind Clay and his popular measure.
This vote, he advised the Governor, should be the test of party unity for the newly-formed
opposition movement. Ultimately, the plan worked: Distribution became a central tenet
of the Whig Party in North Carolina. At the time he wrote this letter to Swain, however,
Mangum had some difficulty with the distribution question. Twice before he had voted
against similar bills on the grounds, he claimed, that the tariff issue needed to be settled
first. Now that that was done, he could vote for distribution with a clear conscience.
Mangum knew that if he changed his stand he would be assailed for inconsistency. So he
requested that Swain "instruct" him to vote for the Clay Bill. Mangum had acknowledged
the right of state officials to instruct United States senators to vote a given way. This
gesture would soon come back to haunt him.27
Swain welcomed Mangum into the fold, happy to have a person possessed of his
"conversational talent." Mangum’s ability to sway "public men with respect to national
politics" would serve the alliance well he thought.28 Privately, he confided to Charles L.
Hinton that Mangum had overstated his case against the president. "The Governor . . .
27 Ibid., 2:53-54; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 20-25; William S.
Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," IM
Journal of Southern History 22 (1956):341-42.
28 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:58.

186
favoured me with a perusal of your letter," Hinton informed Mangum, "he says your skin
is too thin.” an indication that Swain saw the battle with Jackson as an ordinary power
struggle, not the great ideological contest Mangum had described. Mangum’s former
classmate added that he planned to attend a New Year's Eve gala at the governor's
mansion the next evening. The guest list, he added, included more than five hundred
names. Doubtless, news of the senator’s defection would spread quickly through this
crowd.29 A second fellow alumni, Stephen K. Sneed praised Mangum, assuring him that
three-quarters of the people in Granville County felt as he did/1 Orange County Democrat
William Montgomery, however, did not. He thought Mangum had turned against the
constituents who had sent him to the Senate. "Have you gone over to our enemies?" he
asked Mangum soon after he had written his letter to Swain.”
In letters dated February 7 and 24, 1834, Mangum reiterated to Duncan Cameron
much of what he had said to Swain. Expressing little faith in the ability of the pet banks
to provide a stable currency, he had grown even more pessimistic about the economy. A
crisis loomed, he warned Cameron, refusing to give credence to the "impractical &
chimerical scheme of returning to hard money altogether."32 Spiraling inflation and loss
of public confidence were all they could expect from the policies of Jackson and Van
Burén. Their economic agenda, he believed, was little more than a bid to seize more
29 Ibid., 2:62.
30 Ibid., 2:68.
31 Ibid., 2:59.
32 Ibid., 2:73.

187
opportunities for patronage. Mangum had recast the hero. Ignorant, coarse, vulgar,
Jackson fostered corruption at all levels of government.33 The senator proposed a solution
to this mess: a democratic uprising directed by Southern patriots backing Henry Clay.
"The north has been so thoroughly corrupted by the patronage of the Executive, that it is
wholly incapable of making resistance." Only Massachusetts, home to Daniel Webster,
seemed capable of resisting the urge to openly bid for political patronage.34
Mangum had again raised the issues of executive tyranny and the spoils of office.
Virtue, by his estimate, was the exclusive province of the South. He continued to speak
of the moral decay of the administration as if it were evident to all. Jackson had become
corrupted by northern influences, so much so that he was now hostile to the South.
Mangum viewed it as his mission to spread the word of the president's apostasy. But
how? Writing letters to the social, economic, and political elite was in and of itself
insufficient in a democracy. He needed to win over the public. To do that he would have
to tap into existing discontent over administration policy and magnify it out of all
proportion. Thousands of North Carolinians challenged the president's right to withdraw
deposits from the Bank without congressional approval and several groups presented the
Senator with petitions demanding that Jackson restore the funds to the Bank. Long before
33 Ibid., 2:101.
34
Ibid., 2:74.

188
the first of these crossed his desk, Mangum had decided to break with the administration.
The petitions enabled him to claim a popular mandate for a position he already held. "
On January 23, 1834, Mangum introduced the first of these petitions to the United
States Senate. The document, signed by "sundry citizens of North Carolina," protested
the removal of the deposits and demanded the full reinstatement of the Bank of the United
States. Upon submitting the memorial. Mangum sounded a personal note. He said he
knew many of the signatories and could "testify to their respectability and intelligence."’'’
By the time the session came to a close, Mangum would submit more than a dozen such
memorials. '7 They arrived from every section of the state, sometimes from town or village
assemblies, more frequently from county-wide meetings. On occasion he presented more
than one a day. Late in the session, Bedford Brown, North Carolina's other Senator and
a Jackson loyalist, began offering petitions rebutting Mangum’s. In April, Brown entered
one drawn up by citizens in Tarborough, Edgecombe County, praising Jackson and his
policies. Unfazed, Mangum challenged the accuracy of the document, claiming personal
knowledge of the people of Edgecombe and their true political leanings, adding confidently
that once they understood the magnitude of Jackson's sins they would see the error of their
35 Ibid., 2:76-77.
36 United States Congress, The Congressional Cdobe. 23rd. Congress, 1st. session, p.
122.
37 Ibid., pp. 198, 216, 251, 264, 278, 301, 333, 396; United States Congress, Register
of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., lstsess., pp. 529, 1140, 1205-06, 1767-69.

189
ways and return to the opposition fold/8 The following month brought two conflicting
petitions from Wake County alone. Mangum argued that Brown's represented the work
"of eighteen gentlemen of the county of Wake," while the one he had submitted accurately
depicted the will of "four-fifths of the voters of Raleigh."39
Individuals also wrote Mangum to protest Jackson's policies. Samuel Hillman, of
Morganton, told of local mortgage foreclosures and falling produce prices resulting from
the contraction of credit.40 James Lea, a shopkeeper residing in Caswell County, attested
to the positive impact the Bank of the United States had had on "the whole mercantile class
of the community" and denounced withdrawal as an abuse of presidential power.41 Rightly
or wrongly, these men ascribed the downturn in the local economy to Jackson.
Conversely, Priestly Mangum focused on the principles being subordinated in the war
between Jackson and the Bank. On February 20, 1834, the younger Mangum wrote that
all involved had been demeaned by the process. Willie's only option, as he saw it, was
to decide between two evils. He lamented that "this world is awfully governed by
money," as if advising Willie to give in to the inevitable. "We are all bought & sold to
that influence by the force of our necessities. - The power of money is the ascendant in
[North Carolina) at this time; and I suppose your course will be approved by a majority
38 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 1st sess., pp.
1259-60.
39 Ibid., pp. 1767-69.
40 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:81-83.
41
Ibid., 2:96-98.

190
for awhile." And so, he reasoned, Willie should continue to declare loudly and repeatedly
his enmity for Jackson. "Most persons think that Geni. Jackson has acted unwisely, rashly
& perhaps unlawfully in removing the deposites: I think so too," Priestly wrote. In the
end, the younger Mangum believed that Jackson's means, as objectionable as they seemed,
justified the end. For all his alleged infractions against the Constitution, the president had
brought about the demise of an all too powerful and corrupting institution.42 Willie
Mangum was not as hostile to the Bank as his brother and still recognized the salubrious
effect it had the state economy. Yet, he did not disregard the counsel of his most trusted
advisor.
Early in February 1834. Mangum proposed that the removal debate did not concern
whether or not the Bank would continue in its present form. Rather the issue, according
to Mangum, was "law or no law - constitution or no constitution."44 At the time he took
his stand, Mangum was not prepared to make a full-length speech formalizing his break
with Jackson. The petitions, letters of support from voters back home, and his brother's
admonition, convinced the Senator that the time had come. On February 11, he submitted
a petition drawn up at a public meeting in Burke County. This "large and respectable body
of . . . citizens" from the western part of the state decried the "pecuniary embarrassments
and deranged state of the currency of the country, which they attribute to the removal of
public deposits from the Bank of the United States." The petitioners demanded the
42 Ibid., 2:88-90.
43 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 1st sess., pp.
472-73.

191
"immediate restoration of the deposites to that institution."44 Mangum freely editorialized
as he read the affidavit to the Senate. The residents of Burke County, he declared, had
been some of the most faithful Jacksonians in his state. These people - "the best friends
of the Executive" - now refused to stand by and watch him destroy the economy. True to
form, Mangum laced his sermon with denunciations of partisanship and factionalism.
"The destinies of the country are held by one man, sustained by an organized party," deaf
to the pleas of the people for whom the nation had been founded.45 The brief address
represented Willie Mangum at his rhetorical best. Henry Clay, for one, found him quite
convincing. Three days after Mangum read the memorial into the record. Clay backed the
North Carolinian's motion that it be printed and sent to committee.46
Mangum was ready to launch a more virulent attack on the president. On February
25, 1834, he introduced another petition protesting the removal of deposits from the Bank,
this one signed by one hundred citizens from New Bern, North Carolina.4^ Then he
motioned that the Senate renew consideration of the Burke County resolutions. This set
off a storm of protest from the other side of the aisle. Mangum countered with an
extended discourse on the so-called crimes of the administration. He lambasted Jackson
and his adherents as unprincipled, lawless men devoted only to their political party. Their
44 Ibid., p. 529.
45 Ibid.
46 James F. Hopkins, et. al., eds.. The Papers of Henry Clay. 9 vols. (Lexington: The
University of Kentucky Press, 1959-1988), 8:697-98.
47 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 23rd. Congress, 1st. session, p.
198.

192
policies, he went on, had burdened the people of North Carolina with debilitating debt.
Even more damning, they had violated a sacred trust and tested the public's faith in
representative government. Mangum depicted himself as a guardian of republicanism,
promising to reanimate what Jackson had killed. "My object is to check, if possible, bold
and lawless usurpation, and to avert from the country the evils consequent upon it."4*
Sounding yet another familiar theme, he lashed out against political parties. "The only
great principle . . . which the friends of the administration were required to support was
the principle of office."49 Running through the issues of the day — the Bank, the tariff,
internal improvements, and distribution — Mangum sought to demonstrate that Jackson's
every move was dictated by partisanship, nothing more. Politicians, abetted by a cynical,
manipulative and rabidly partisan press, had poisoned the body politic, Mangum clamored
from the floor of the Senate, sure that his words would carry all the way back home.50
Part of Mangum's plan was to replace one icon with another. To do this he
returned to the tariff. He reminded Southerners that, despite administration promises to
the contrary, the act of 1832 had failed to heed their simple pleas for "a judicious tariff."51
Instead, Jackson tried to take from Southern purses more than their fair share of taxes.
His reckless policies, Mangum asserted, had driven the nation to the brink of civil war.
Only the bold and selfless intervention of the great compromiser, Henry Clay, prevented
4X Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:569.
49 Ibid., 5:572.
50 Ibid., 5:569.
51
Ibid., 5:574.

193
a cataclysm. In giving his polemical rendition of the past, Mangum took license with
history in the name of principle. Casting down a hero could not be done unless a second
waited in the wings. Henry Clay, if Mangum was to have his way, would be the national
figure around whom a party could form.52
The public reaction to Mangum's February 25 speech was, for the most part,
favorable. John Chavis, his former tutor, was the first to applaud his new course. Dozens
of other laudatory notes quickly followed and continued to drift in well into the session.
Some came from prominent individuals, like John Branch and William Blount, others
arrived from citizens groups, including one from the signers of the Burke County
resolution and one from Mangum’s neighbors in Hillsborough.53 Many correspondents
lionized Mangum and spoke of the glories that awaited him and all the other friends of
Henry Clay. Brother Priestly, in keeping with his wary nature, tendered a more reserved
assessment. "The great body of our People would sustain the President" on the deposit
question, the younger Mangum wrote. As to who would back Willie, Priestly thought
former Federalists, friends of the Bank, folks engaged in commerce, and "generally the
intilligent [sic]" the most likely candidates.54
52 Ibid., 5:585.
53 Ibid., 2:103, 105-06, 106-07, 116-17, 121, 122, 126, 127-31, 133, 136, 139, 142,
I43.44, 147, 158, 171.
54
Ibid., 2:118.

194
Willie Mangum enjoyed a special rapport with the press in Raleigh. He often
furnished local editors with Senate documents and other material to fill their pages.55 The
speech provided more grist. Both the Raleigh Register and the Raleigh Star printed his
speech in its entirety on their front pages.56 The Salisbury Western Carolinian included
scathing criticism of Senator Bedford Brown in a story praising Mangum. Mangum’s most
unrestrained anti-administration tirade to date had reached the people of the Old North
State. It was only a matter of time before he would learn how they would respond.
The next step in his defection from the Democrats involved something far more
serious than a verbal harangue. After three months of debate, the senate voted on Henry
Clay’s resolutions of censure against Andrew Jackson and Roger Taney. Clay challenged
the president and his Treasury Secretary on the grounds that they had failed to consult
Congress before removing the deposits from the Bank. First brought to the senate in
December 1833, Clay's maneuver won added legitimacy following the February 1834
release of a Finance Committee repon declaring the Bank safe and denouncing the actions
of the administration. Mangum, who voiced support for the report, franked copies of it
to key figures in the anti-Jackson contingent in North Carolina. The vote proved a test of
party solidarity and a defining moment in the life of the anti-Democratic movement in the
South. On March 28, 1834, the Senate voted 28 to 18 to censure Taney and 26 to 20 to
censure Jackson. Mangum voted "yea" both times. Bedford Brown supported Jackson as
55 Raleigh Star. 20 February 1834.
56 Raleigh Register. 18 March 1834; Raleigh Star. 27 March 1834; Western Carolinian
(Salisbury), 8, 22 March 1834.

195
he and Mangum became focal points of party organization back home. Three senators
who had voted against rechartering the Bank — Mangum, John Tyler of Virginia, and
George M. Bibb of Kentucky — voted for censure. Nine senators from five slave states
stood behind Clay, seven backed the president. Jackson had lost his grip on the South.
The contest over censuring the president and Taney united southern foes of the
administration as never before. The party leadership had expressed its solidarity with the
censure vote. So too did the electorate with their anti-removal petition drives. Together
they appeared ready to challenge the political dominance of the Jacksonians in North
Carolina.57
Reactions to Mangum's vote to censure a sitting president came from all quarters.
Some praised the senator for his courage in adhering to republican principles in
challenging the president. Others cursed him for deserting the sacred cause of democracy.
Both parties drew on the same images and rhetoric. Immediately after the censure vote,
Mangum's opponents organized a rally in Tarborough against him.58 During the summer
of 1834, however, the Judge received encouraging news from his fellow Tar Heels. His
57 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 1st sess., p.
1187; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:98; Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and
the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," p. 342; Brown, Politics and
Statesmanship, p. 157; Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, p. 52; Thomas
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861, (Athens: The
University of Georgia Press, 1989), pp. 41, 47; Richard P. McCormick, "Was There a
'Whig Strategy' in 1836?" Journal of the Early Republic 4 (1984):51; Robert V. Remini,
Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), p.
456.
58 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:137.

196
friends in Fayetteville passed resolutions at a public meeting venerating Mangum as "a
defender of constitutional liberty."59 Alexander M. Kirkland offered the following toast
at a fourth of July celebration in Hillsborough: "The honorable Willie P. Mangum from
the 'Rip Van Winkle of the South.' If his constituents do sleep, he is ever awake to her
true interests."60 Mangum's deeds in Washington had defined the context of political
discourse in North Carolina.
The evolution of evenly-matched, massed-based political parties in North Carolina
happened gradually. Both state and national issues divided the friends of the
administration from their opponents. Personal rivalries among the leadership of the two
groups played a part as well. Whatever the cause, two such parties were in place by the
mid-1830s. Their roots reached deep into the past, representing rivalries that antedated
the major issues and nearly all of the leaders. Neither organization could claim sole
control of a particular region. Instead, Whigs and Democrats could be found in every part
of the state, though not in an even disbursement. Wealthier counties, especially those
situated on the central and southern coastal plains, areas with large numbers of planters
and slaves, tended to vote Democratic. Folks in the central piedmont district and the
western counties voted otherwise. These patterns, however, were not entirely clear cut.
In fact voting patterns in North Carolina were unique to the south in that they did not
exhibit a strong correlation between region and party identity. With so few cities, urban-
59 Raleigh Register. 1 July 1834.
Hillsborough Recorder, 9 July 1834.

197
rural divisions were almost unknown. As were ethno-religious tensions. Most Tar Heels
claimed British ancestry and worshipped in Baptist or Methodist churches. Primitive
Baptists, who responded positively to Democratic rhetoric supporting the separation of
church and state, and Quakers, who opposed Jackson because of his military background,
were the only denominations to show a discernable preference for a particular party in
antebellum North Carolina.61
The social composition of the leadership of the two parties also shared similar
characteristics. Both groups were dominated by the economic elite. Although the degree
of market penetration in a given region helped determine if certain issues — internal
improvements being the best example -- would win popular approval, economic factors
had only a marginal impact on party identity.52 Most North Carolinians were political
moderates, especially when compared to the folks who lived in the deep south. "It is very
certain that Mr. Van Burén is not a favorite in North Carolina; - Nullification and he are
in decided minorities," David L. Swain wrote Mangum.63 The governor, an astute
61 Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865. (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana Press, 1983), pp. 6, 14-19; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 161;
Harold J. Counihan, "North Carolina 1815-1836: State and Local Perspectives on the Age
of Jackson," (Ph. D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1971), p.
iii; Folsom, "Party Formation & Development in Jacksonian America," p. 223; James
Oakes, "From Republicanism to Liberalism: Ideological Change and the Crisis of the Old
South," American Quarterly 37 (1985):564-65; Brian G. Walton, "Elections to the United
States Senate in North Carolina, 1835-1861," North Carolina Historical Review 53
(1976): 171.
62 Pessen, Jacksonian America, pp. 235, 239; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 8-9.
63 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:58.

198
observer of state politics, imagined his constituents to be moderates. Neither the
Democrats nor their opponents exhibited the pro-southern militancy associated with
nullification. Both swore deep and abiding allegiance to the Union and did not perceive
any great threats to their way of life coming from the North.64
Opponents of Andrew Jackson began using the term "Whig" to describe themselves
during the nullification crisis and Bank war. The appellation had clear republican
overtones, derived as it was from Great Britain's anti-royalist country party. American
Whigs used the name to stress their opposition to "executive tyranny." The party in office
used the name and all it symbolized to win the support of the electorate. The name
"Whig" had been in the American political lexicon since the Revolutionary War period.
During the winter of 1832-33, nullifiers referred to themselves as "Whigs." By February
1834, North Carolinians had adopted the label to distinguish themselves from the
unpopular National Republicans.65 Willie Mangum, though still stridently antipartisan,
referred to himself as a Whig in the fall of that year. "I quarrel with no man for calling
64 John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and "Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the
United States. 1837-1846. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 247;
Pessen, Jacksonian America, p. 230.
65 Charleston Mercury. 17 December 1832; United States Congress, Register of
Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 1st sess., pp. 1313-14; Cole, The Whig Party in the
South, pp. 17-18; Pessen, Jacksonian America, p. 201; Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics, p. 42; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy' in 1836?" p. 53; E. Malcolm
Carroll, Origins of the Whig Party. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1925) p. 118;
Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participation Politics: The Early Republic’s Political
Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (1974):474-75.

199
me a Whig," he admitted to newspaper editor John Beard, "yet 1 feel it no compliment. ”56
In December 1834, a person writing in the Raleigh Register under the alias "Sydney"
urged all who were committed to "arresting the downward course of things" to unite under
the banner "State Right Societies or Whig Associations." Promising to fight "the abuses
and mal-practices of this administration," and to bring down "hypocrites and office
hunters," opponents of Andrew Jackson in North Carolina had come together as Whigs.h
Several factions in North Carolina merged behind the Whig name. These included
Unionists and nullifiers, nationalists and states rights advocates, ex-Federalists and ex-
Republicans, and people both for and against the Bank, for and against the tariff, for and
against internal improvements. Barbourites, supporters of John Branch, and other
dissident Jacksonians swelled the ranks of the Whig Party. Only their mutual distrust of
Jackson held them together during their first years in existence. Given this diversity,
consensus on matters of policy was hard to reach. At first, their internal differences left
the North Carolina Whigs unable to decide which national leader they should follow.
Even their official name, the "States Rights Whig Party," revealed their persistent localism
and sense of independence from the national organization.68
66 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:216.
67 Raleigh Register. 23, 30 December 1834.
68 Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North Carolina," pp. 120-21;
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, pp. 89, 152, 156, 186; Max R. Williams,
"Reemergence of the Two Party System," in The North Carolina Experience; An
Interpretive and Documentary History, eds. Lindley S. Butler and Alan D. Watson
(Chapel Hill; The University of North Carolina Press, 1984), pp. 243-44; Henry M.
Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861, (Baltimore: The

200
Once he crossed over to the opposition, Willie Mangum helped bridge these
differences and bring cohesion to the organization. The senator proved the ideal
conciliator. Having been careful not to upset the friends of the Bank or of John Calhoun,
Mangum enjoyed working relationships with both the nationalists and the nullifiers. He
brought with him to the party dozens of lesser, state-level operatives, loyal clients to the
powerful senator. From the time of his defection, fellow Whigs looked to Mangum as
their leader. As a resident of centrally-located Orange County, Mangum enjoyed the
added advantage of living near the locus of power. Poor transportation networks and local
geographic factors dictated that political power within the state resided with those in
closest proximity to the capital city. With the aid of John Branch, David Swain, and
several others, Mangum began building a political machine, organizing a web of contacts
both within and outside North Carolina. By 1835, they had established a central
committee in Raleigh to coordinate the activities of the county committees. These smaller
bodies elected delegates to district conventions for the purpose of running gubernatorial
campaigns and naming presidential electors. They were also charged with disseminating
information and party propaganda to the public. Newspapers like the Raleigh Register,
the Hillsborough Recorder, the Fayetteville Observer, and the Salisbury Western
Carolinian aided in this process. After a slow start, leaders gradually learned to overcome
their aversion to organized parties and convinced voters to do the same. Having enlisted
Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), p. 69.

201
some of the finest and most able editors and politicians in the state, North Carolina's Whig
Party built up a following ready to challenge the Democrats.69
Throughout the spring and summer of 1834, North Carolina Whigs worked closely
with their counterparts in other states to fashion a national party. Willie Mangum became
one of his state's leading exponents of interstate cooperation. He and Henry Clay, for
example, exchanged ideas about campaigning and kept each other abreast of election
results in their home states. Duff Green, John C. Calhoun, and William Campbell
Preston, all from South Carolina, labored alongside Mangum as well. In 1834, the four
men worked together to enlist subscribers for a recently established states rights Whig
newspaper. Mangum eventually won national recognition as a leading southern Whig.
Invitations to speak at formal dinners, political rallies, and Fourth of July picnics came
from as far away as Saratoga Springs, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 11
Mangum's enemies in North Carolina viewed his new-found notoriety with disdain. In the
debut issue of the North Carolina Standard, a Raleigh-based sheet with ties to the Jackson
69 Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of
Instructions," pp. 342-43; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 12, 28; Kruman,
Parties and Politics, pp. 20, 52; Thomas Jeffrey, "Internal Improvements and Political
Parties in Antebellum North Carolina, 1836-1860," North Carolina Historical Review 55
(1978): 117; Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party
Formation in the Jacksonian Era. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,
1966), pp. 206-07; Williams, "Reemergence of the Two Party System, pp. 244-45; Marc
W. Kruman, "Thomas L. Clingman and the Whig Party: A Reconsideration," North
Carolina Historical Review 64 (1979):9; Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party
in North Carolina," pp. 119, 124; Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties, p. 69;
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, pp. 92-93, 106.
70 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:165, 167, 169, 170, 173, 174-75, 191,
255, 257.

202
camp, editor Philo White attacked Mangum (without ever mentioning him by name) for
betraying Jackson. In the next edition and over the course of several weeks a
correspondent by the name of "Lucius" painted Mangum as a manipulative political
manager whose party loyalty mattered more than principle. Like Mangum, the friends of
the administration used antiparty rhetoric to pillory and defame their rivals.71
There was some truth in "Lucius'" remarks. The garrulous North Carolinian
habitually consorted with public officials, often at dinner parties, and these associations
may have appeared secretive or self-serving to outsiders. Nevertheless, Mangum attended
informal gatherings aware that they could help initiate formal alliances. On March 8,
1834, he dined with Senators Calhoun and Preston of South Carolina, Samuel Southard
of New Jersey, and Peleg Sprague of Maine. Joined by several members of the House of
Representatives, the occasion was as much a business meeting as a social affair.
Congressman John Quincy Adams, also present, recalled that "the company sat late at
table, and the conversation was chiefly upon politics."72 During the early national period
politics remained intensely personal. The fate of a piece of legislation or a political
alliance often hinged on the ability of politicians to use friendships to his advantage, an
approach that Mangum knew well. Colleagues on either side of the political fence
recognized him as friendly, outgoing, and personable and he used his popularity to the
71 North Carolina Standard. 7, 14, 21 November, 5, 19 December 1834.
72 Charles Francis Adams, ed.. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions
of his Diary from 1795 to 1845. 12 vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1874-
1877), 9:105.

203
utmost. Whether entertaining visiting Tar Heels, celebrating Christmas with national
power brokers, or dining privately with Georgia opposition leader John M. Berrien,
Mangum played the role of back-room politician to the hilt.7’
In June 1834, Mangum's skill as a party leader, his mastery of the politics of
personalities, and his incomparable powers of observation all converged as the House of
Representatives met to elect a new Speaker. James K. Polk of Tennessee, the choice of
Andrew Jackson, expected additional support from the nullifiers. Whig opponents,
however, split the nullifier vote by nominating Richard H. Wilde, a Georgian with strong
nullification credentials of his own. Outraged, Polk turned to Mangum and asked that he
use his influence to sway the undecided. Mangum stalled because he had yet to learn
whom the administration was backing. A third candidate, John Bell, also from Tennessee,
refused to have the dispute settled by a caucus. Instead, he openly sought votes from both
Whigs and Democrats. By the seventh ballot Bell had closed within eight votes of the
leader Polk. Wilde's supporters, sensing their man's faltering chances, prepared to cast
their votes for Polk, a move which would have put him over the top. But rumors about
Polk's ties to the "kitchen cabinet" gave them pause. Meanwhile, news of Bell's gains on
the seventh ballot had reached Vice President Van Burén, who was then presiding over the
7; Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period," pp. 47-48; Wiltse,
John C. Calhoun, p. 224; J. W. Bryan to his brother, 6 May 1836, Bryan Family Papers,
Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; George
Poindexter to Willie P. Mangum, 21 December 1834, Willie Person Mangum Papers,
Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; John M. Berrien
to Willie P. Mangum, 19 January 1835, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.

204
senate. As Van Burén read the message. Mangum studied his reaction. Slowly, a look
of dismay fell over the New Yorker's bewhiskered face. Mangum knew at once that Polk
was Van Buren's man. Without hesitation, he sent word across the rotunda directing all
states rights men to throw their weight behind Bell. They did. On the tenth ballot the
House elected John Bell Speaker. From his desk, Willie Mangum smiled wryly as the
results were announced to the senate. He had earned this moment of smug contentment,
having just given an impressive demonstration of his political power and, more satisfying
still, having outfoxed the "Red Fox" himself. Martin Van Burén.74
In the late summer and early autumn of 1834, Willie Mangum toured the middle
Atlantic and New England states as part of a Senate Finance Committee investigation of
the Second Bank of the United States. The fact-finding mission took the five committee
members to branch offices in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. There they inspected
bank records in an effort to determine the viability of the institution. For Mangum, the
trip was something of an adventure. His first visit to three of the most populous cities in
the nation, Mangum faithfully recorded his impressions of the people he met and the sights
he had seen. His letters from this period are the most revealing he had ever written. They
exhibit a curious and complex nature. On one page, he writes with the freshness of a
wide-eyed young man and he is funny, wise, and warm. On the next page he is the cynic.
Dark, sullen, lonely, his words leave the reader cold. In the end, the trip took him to new
74 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P, Mangum. 2:349-52; Charles G. Sellers, James K.
Polk, Jacksonian, 1795-1843. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), pp. 240-42;
Remini, Henry Clay, p. 469; Joseph Howard Parks, John Bell of Tennessee. (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1950), pp. 73-75, 95.

205
places where he met new friends. He came away with a new impression of his northern
allies and made important connections in the world of finance, men who would forever
alter his outlook on government and the economy.
The first leg of the journey took Mangum to New York City. A cholera epidemic
forced the party to delay its official business until a later date. As his ship sat in its berth
in the port. Mangum braved the epidemic, hired a coach for one dollar and fifty cents and
took a two-hour ride through the streets of Gotham. He felt it the best money he had ever
spent. "Take New York altogether, its bays, its rivers, its city & its heights about it they
form the most picturesque & delightful spot I ever saw," Mangum wrote his wife. Only
the mountains of North Carolina, he boasted, surpassed the scenic beauty of New York
City.75
The voyage from New York to Newport, Rhode Island proved equally
breathtaking. When they reached port, Mangum, accompanied by John Tyler, combed the
city in search of a decent room. Finding none to his liking, he decided to continue on to
Providence at daybreak. Having sent his bags ahead, Mangum left for the pier at seven
in the morning. Much to his chagrin, he arrived at the dock just as his ship was steaming
out of the harbor. As he watched his luggage being carried up river, he lost his
characteristic sang fro id. "You may be sure that even my mild & patient temper was a
little ruffled."75 Regaining his composure, Mangum walked to a nearby ticket office where
75 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:183.
76
Ibid, 2:185.

206
he booked passage to Providence on an overland stage. The splendor of the Rhode Island
countryside put the senator in a better frame of mind. He arrived at the state capital in
time for dinner.
Impressed as he was with Providence Mangum felt restless, so he boarded another
stage the following morning and left for Boston. Again he found the landscape more
beautiful than he had ever imagined. Once there, Mangum tried to register at the Tremont
House, "the fashionable Hotel and the very best in the United States," only to be greeted
by a full house. He met with similar bad luck at all of the other upscale hotels in the city.
Finally, he landed a room at a private boarding house on Pearl Street. The finely-
furnished home impressed him so much that he decided to stay in for the evening and put
off his planned visit to the home of Daniel Webster until the following day. On August
22, the day after he arrived in Boston, Mangum called on his friend. Webster proved a
gracious host. Insisting that Mangum give up his room on Pearl Street, Webster used his
pull to get the North Carolinian a room at the Tremont. He then escorted his guest on a
walking tour of Boston, sure to stop in at all of his favorite haunts. Mangum found the
people of Boston "the most civil in the world." Yet for all their kindness, he noted an air
of superficiality about them. "Fashion here, is a much greater tyrant than it is with us, or
even than Gen. Jackson himself," he joked to Charity.77 Northerners, he concluded,
although cordial and polite, were cold and distant, bearing a "slight incrustation of ice
77
Ibid, 2:194.

207
about them."78 He thought it was his high station that caught the attention of strangers:
Had he not been a senator, had he been "unknown to the world," he would have remained
thus to the people of Boston. Southerners, by way of contrast, treated everyone equally.
At least this is how Mangum envisioned his home.â„¢
Once brilliant cities were slowly taking on a darker hue. "All cities are rather
vulgar things," he wrote after wandering the streets of Boston. "When you see one great
city, you have seen nearly all, they are so much alike."80 A trip to the "great
manufacturing town" of Lowell, Massachusetts only confirmed his misgivings about the
North's free-labor economy. "Everything indicated a prosperity leading rapidly to wealth
& was in every way agreeable," he wrote, "except the thousands of Girls, from 12 to 18
years of age, that labor here." This "melancholy & painful spectacle," he believed, would
never be seen in the South. "1 had rather my daughters should go into the cornfields with
their hoes," he added, "... than they should go into a factory." The longer he remained
in the North, the more he became disenchanted. Troubled by the unfamiliar nature of
labor relations in an industrial capitalist economy, Mangum interpreted all he saw through
the eyes of a paternalistic slaveowner, holding strong to the agrarian ideal long associated
with Thomas Jefferson.81
78 Ibid, 2:215.
79 Ibid, 2:194.
81 Ibid., 2:201-202.

208
Long days spent poring over Bank records and long nights at fashionable parties
began to take their toll. Mangum longed for home. Even excursions to the shore, the
home of John Quincy Adams, and Harvard University did little to relieve his anxiety.
Only the calm of the organ and choral music at the Brattle Street Church in Boston helped
sooth his frayed nerves/2 From Boston, Mangum ventured south toward Philadelphia.
Along the way he stopped in Hartford, Connecticut. There he went on a sightseeing tour
of the city, culminating with a climb to the cupola perched atop the State House. The
spectacular vista seemed to revive his ailing spirits. Leaving Hartford behind, the
committee journeyed to New York City. With the cholera epidemic still in full force, the
group was once again obliged to bypass New York and continue on to Philadelphia. They
reached it in late September 1834.83
As September turned into October, Mangum’s desire to return home became more
acute. His business had kept him away from his wife and children longer than he had
expected. Despite his progress with his work and success in obtaining contacts in the
financial community, the Senator had grown restless and irritable. Illness had prevented
Webster from leaving Boston. His assurances to rejoin the group when it came to New
York that November only meant that Mangum and the rest had to log even longer hours
in Philadelphia. Overwork may have contributed to the pessimistic tone of Mangum's
appraisal of the new Whig alliance written during his stay in Philadelphia. On October
82 Ibid, 2:195-98.
83
Ibid, 2:200-205.

209
7, 1834, he informed John Beard that "the basis of all party organization in the North &
East is naked interest. - Principles are silly things as contradistinguished from pecuniary
interests." What principles they do hold, he added, are those we "abhor." He recalled an
incident at a dinner party that took place shortly before he left Boston where he warned
his northern friends that the South would rather secede than allow the North to trample on
the rights of the individual states. The southern wing of the Whig Party, he cautioned,
would not become a pawn of northern interests. Mangum delighted in shocking his hosts,
whom he believed to be completely unaware of the depth of southern disdain for
centralized authority. Unfortunately, he told Beard, the South could offer no native son
with national appeal. Left with a choice between obeying his principles or falling in with
Yankees, Mangum could only despair. Unless he could reconcile his own beliefs with
those of his northern brethren, he lamented, he would retire. The new alliance between
northern nationalists and southern states rights men seemed doomed from the outset.M
Mangum's gloomy forecast failed to take into account much of what united these
seemingly diverse interests in the first place. Indeed, the very committee report that came
out of his prolonged excursion to the North attested to the cohesion of the Whigs. Written
by Tyler, the report echoed the party line verbatim. The Bank, the committee found, had
been safe prior to the removal of deposits and did not have a hand in influencing the
political process. Beyond this show of party unity, Whigs, both northern and southern,
could boast similar temperaments. In general, the men who called themselves Whigs were
84
Ibid, 2:212-19.

210
political moderates. Given to compromise and consensus building, they shared a suspicion
of political parties and a love for the Union. As pragmatists, they worked constantly to
balance sectional issues with their national agenda/5
Ideological differences between the Whigs and the Democrats were subtle.
Whiggish values, like those of their opponents, fell under the broadly defined rubric
"republicanism." Both parties drew upon these ideals, in part, to win over voters.
Revolutionary era images and symbols gave these new organizations added legitimacy with
a public weary of political parties. Whigs coded their critique of Jackson in republican
rhetoric, damning the administration for abusing the veto and violating the separation of
powers. Balancing classical republican concerns with the pragmatism of commercial
capitalism, they broadened their appeal in New England and the West. Proposed internal
improvements legislation, such as the Maysville Road Bill and a moderately protective
tariff, appealed to the people in those regions who wished to play a greater role in an
expanding market economy. Restoring the natural balance to an organic society,
emphasizing a harmony of interests (whether referring to class or region), and promoting
economic development for the good of the republic, became the battle cry of the Whigs.
55 Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), 19 December 1834; Brown,
Politics and Statesmanship, pp. 3, 6-7, 11-12, 156, 158-59, 172, 180, 217-18; Peter B.
Knupfer, The Union as It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional Compromise. 1787-
1861, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), p. 134; Larry Keith
Menna, "Embattled Conservatism: The Ideology of the Southern Whigs," (Ph. D.
dissertation, Columbia University, 1991), pp. 16-18, 34, 53-54, 297; John Niven, Martin
Van Burén; The Romantic Age of American Politics. (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1983), p. 373; Lynn L. Marshall, "The Strange Stillbirth of the Whig Party,"
American Historical Review 72 (1967):445.

Redefining parties as voluntary alliances made up of people from every strata of this
organic social order and committed to a set of loosely defined principles enabled leaders
like Mangum to set aside their antipartyism. Like many politicians of his generation,
Mangum's own principles were necessarily elastic. Compromise, consensus, moderation,
pragmatism: These proved to be the central pillars of Mangum's political creed. The
doubt he expressed to John Beard in October 1834 proved fleeting, for he soon realized
that what he had mistaken for the hard and fast principles of his northern counterparts were
nothing of the kind. Common ideals, common temperaments, and common goals drew
them together in ways Mangum was only just beginning to understand. "6
86 Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs. (Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 3, 9, 21, 52-53, 210; Major Wilson,
"Republicanism and the Idea of Party in the Jacksonian Period," Journal of the Early
Republic 8 (1988):426-27; Ashworth, "Agrarians" and "Aristocrats", p. 73; Jeffrey, State
Parties and National Politics, p. 119; Formisano, "Deferential-Participation Politics," p.
486; Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 313; Eric Foner, Free Soil.
Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War, (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 19; Richard L. McCormick, The Party Period
and Public Policy; American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the Progressive Era,
(New York; Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 160, 165; Richard P. McCormick, The
Presidential Game: The Origins of American Presidential Politics. (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1982), p. 10.

CHAPTER 7
INSTRUCTIONS
On December 11, 1834, the North Carolina House of Commons passed two
resolutions referring to the right of instruction. The first of these reconfirmed the long-
held, but seldom invoked authority of the General Assembly to instruct their United States
Senators how to vote on a given question. The second had a more specific intent. By a
vote of 69 to 57, the commoners agreed to instruct Willie Mangum to vote in favor of a
bill to expunge the resolution of 1834 that censured Andrew Jackson for removing deposits
from the Second Bank of the United States. On December 22, the senate followed suit.
Democrats in Raleigh rejoiced that Mangum would have to change his stand on the Bank,
resign his seat in the senate, or ignore the instructions, any one of which would embarrass
him. Mangum now faced the fight of his life, they predicted, albeit not very accurately.
While Mangum refused to obey the instructions, he did not immediately resign. Nor did
he lose his influence in state and national politics. Instead he resisted their assaults. His
tenacity won him the admiration of countless Tar Heels who rallied to his cause. He
became a symbol, the much-needed focal point of a political party in its infancy. To the
Democrats, Willie Mangum was the Whig Party incarnate, the target of their most bitter
editorials and speeches. For the next two years Mangum would be ihe issue in North
Carolina politics. Ultimately he would step down. Even in retirement Mangum remained
212

213
an issue as his vindication became the raison d’etre of the North Carolina Whigs. Upon
reinstatement to the senate in 1840. Willie Mangum was the unquestioned leader of his
state's Whig Party and one of the most influential figures in national politics.1
The doctrine of instructions dated back to the Continental Congress, when
representatives were likened to ambassadors at a foreign court. Four states, among them
North Carolina, included provisions for the instruction of United States senators in their
original constitutions. During the first congressional assembly under the new constitution.
Thomas Tudor Tucker of South Carolina argued unsuccessfully to add the right of
instruction to the Bill of Rights. By the 1790s. however, the practice had fallen into
disrepute after several incidents exposed its potential for abuse. Still, proponents argued
that because senators had been elected by state legislatures they should be responsive to
its will. Detractors countered that representatives in Washington should be allowed to
follow their consciences unless otherwise commanded by a popular convention. In 1824,
Mangum alluded to the concept of congressional free will in a speech before congress. By
the 1830s, the Whigs had refined this idea, acknowledging the accountability of
representatives but adding that instructions violated the basic principles of representative
1 William S. Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1958), p. 79; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics
and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland
County North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 185.

214
government. Democrats, on the other hand, found instructions to be an easy means of
maintaining party discipline and freely used the tool.2
Mangum had suspected for some time that the Democrats would try to use
instructions to their advantage. Despite their protestations to the contrary, his own party
had attempted the same tactic against Senator Bedford Brown in the March 1834. Their
attempt to instruct him to vote in favor of restoring deposits to the Bank failed. Moreover,
it left them open to almost certain retaliation. Mangum's own behavior left him vulnerable
as well. In December 1833, he had privately urged Governor David L. Swain to instruct
him to vote for Henry Clay's distribution bill, thus conceding the validity of the
controversial doctrine.-’
With the North Carolina General Assembly in recess, Mangum had to wait until
learning if the rumors he had heard about instructions were valid. In the interim he
reflected on the path he had chosen and the battle that lay ahead. On October 7, 1834,
from his dimly-lit room in Philadelphia, Mangum shared his thoughts with newspaper
editor John Beard. "I have been denounced as an 'apostate.' I feel the injustice of it," he
2 Clement Eaton, "Southern Senators and the Right of Instruction, 1789-1860," Journal
of Southern History 18 (1952):303, 305, 307, 318-19; John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the United States. 1837-1846 (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 57; William R. Brock, Parties & Political
Conscience: American Dilemmas. 1840-1850 (Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press, 1979), pp.
8-9; Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 5:498-99.
3 William S. Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of
Instructions," The Journal of Southern History 22 (1956):343-45; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 2:54.

215
grumbled, adding "I have abandoned no principle upon which I was elected. - & yet I had
rather go home and eat straw than to remain in public life at the sacrifice of my own self
respect." Biding their time back in North Carolina, Democratic legislators readied
themselves for a long fight.4
Answering a call from the Democratic press in Washington, Dr. John Potts of the
North Carolina House of Commons introduced a resolution calling upon Mangum to vote
for Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s expunging resolution. Put forward on November 28,
1834, the Potts resolution started a debate that lasted nearly two weeks. Mangum's allies
in the General Assembly banded together to forestall passage. John Branch led the
contingent in the upper chamber while William A. Graham did his best to see that the
House rejected the Potts resolution. Former Senator James Iredell and Governor Swain
lent their support as well. For all their prestige and talent, however, Mangum's friends
could not muster enough votes to deny his opponents their revenge. This they seemed to
understand from the outset. On November 17, 1834, the General Assembly had reelected
Bedford Brown to the United States Senate by a vote of 113 to 60. His wide margin of
victory portended defeat for the pro-Mangum forces on the instruction vote. Accordingly,
his friends in Raleigh proceeded as if the resolution had already passed. While they
promised to put up a good fight on his behalf, they also intimated to Mangum that
instructions were forthcoming and urged that he ignore them once they arrived. Only
Assemblyman Richard H. Alexander seemed to believe that Mangum could win the battle.
4 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:218.

216
but only if he came to Raleigh to lead the fight himself. Mangum decided to leave that
task to his lieutenants and corresponded with them regularly to plan strategy.5 James
Graham, the brother of William, met with Mangum in Washington and found him at ease,
"prepared to hear the Judgement of Condemnation from Raleigh. "6 It came on December
11, when the House voted 69 to 57 in favor of the instructions resolution. Two weeks
later, the senate approved the measure by a vote of 33 to 28.7
Mangum immediately learned of the results through unofficial channels. Agonizing
over how to respond, he sketched his thoughts in two letters to William Graham. Dated
December 16 and 17, they convey anguish and resentment. The senator was tired. His
sojourn to the North had kept him from his wife and family for too long. It had tried his
patience for politics as well. On top of all that, he now had to endure the humiliation of
being instructed by a hostile legislature to do something he thought was wrong. "Were I
to consult either my pride or my feelings, I should resign instantly," he told Graham.* But
5 Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions,"
pp. 338, 346-47; Daniel M. McFarland, "Rip Van Winkle: Political Evolution in North
Carolina, 1815-1835" (Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 1954), pp. 425-26;
Herbert Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina (Chapel Hill: Colonial Press,
1968), pp. 21-22; Thomas Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina.
1814-1861 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p. 43; Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum. 2:225-26, 229, 230-31, 232.
6 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton and Henry M.Wagstaff, eds.. The Papers of William
Alexander Graham. 8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 1957-
1992), 1:335.
North Carolina, General Assembly, Journal of the House of Commons (Raleigh: State
Printer, 1834), pp. 187, 189; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 43.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:241.

217
he would not give his enemies the satisfaction of so easy a victory. Besides, his honor was
at stake. "My strongest wish is to leave this position, as soon as I may do it with honor,
& the respect of good men," he confided to his old classmate.9
Instructions, as Mangum understood them, represented "a gross perversion of the
spirit of the Constitution" because they handed control of the senate to a partisan
president.10 To Mangum and the Whigs, this infringement of the principle of the
separation of powers could not be tolerated. They viewed the senate as the bulwark of
republicanism, protecting the people from a despotic chief executive. To surrender on the
question of instructions, Mangum held, would be to grant the president the "absolute
power" of a king.11 Only a mandate from the people of North Carolina, Mangum wrote,
could budge him from his seat in the senate. So, Mangum established the rules of
engagement. "If I shall resign at all ... it will be only when the trust can be surrendered
to the people."12 He held this position throughout the controversy.
Beyond the great constitutional principles at risk, Mangum saw trouble ahead for
the Whig Party. Grave consequences would result if the Democrats were allowed to
proceed unchecked with their plan to instruct any official who strayed from their party
line. In his second letter to Graham, Mangum concentrated on the practical partisan issues
at stake. "If I resign," he wrote the morning of December 17, "Jackson will be able to
9 Ibid., 2:242.
10 Ibid., 2:241.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid., 2:243.

218
control the next Congress. If I stand firmly, the opposition will continue in the ascendancy
in the next Congress."13 He based this conjecture on the fact that two other southern Whig
senators — Gabriel Moore of Alabama and John Black of Mississippi — faced the same
dilemma as Mangum: Submit to disagreeable instructions or resign their seats in the
senate. "They both say that if I resign, it would be impossible for them to stand up against
the storm that will blow upon them. - That if I stand firm, that they will stand by me to
the death."14 Finally, Mangum thought that the South would be dealt a fatal blow if he
were to surrender his independence, that state legislators in the North would begin to use
instructions to press their agenda in Washington to the detriment of the South. So he
decided to hold firm. Friends and associates encouraged this resolve, writing daily to
shore up his confidence and pledge their fidelity. On January 2, 1835. he received an
official copy of the instructions from Governor Swain, himself torn by duty to office and
loyalty to his ally. Mangum chose to ignore them and challenge the doctrine of
instructions.15
As expected, local editors praised and condemned Mangum's inaction, depending
on their partisan affiliation. The ensuing war of words attests to the maturity of the
journalistic arm of the new political parties. Well disciplined and well organized. Whig
and Democratic editors in North Carolina took their partisan positions. The pro-Whig
13 Ibid., 2:245.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid., 2:236-37, 239, 249, 260; Carolyn A. Daniel, "David Lowry Swain, 1801-
1835" (Ph. D. dissertation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1954). p. 501.

219
Raleigh Register pointed to Democratic solidarity exemplified by the instructions vote as
reason enough for their party to demand discipline from its members. Of course they
shrouded this call to arms in the language of republicanism, but their meaning was clear ~
we must organize to defeat the "organization." The Register claimed that instructions
violated the state and national constitutions as well as the expressed will of the people of
North Carolina.16 Like Mangum, the editor of the Raleigh Star described the fight in
apocalyptic terms, with the Whigs on the side of justice and the "corrupt and tyrannical
junto, known by the title of the Albany Regency" on the side of self-interest. Identifying
North Carolina's Democrats with Vice President Martin Van Burén and his allegedly
corrupt political machine reminded voters that the Democrats were in league with
unpopular northern interests.17 Not to be outdone. Democratic editor Philo White
portrayed Mangum as a lying, unprincipled, evil man and made repeated calls for Mangum
to obey the instructions or else resign.|X
Throughout January and February 1835, Mangum received dozens of letters
advising him on instructions. All but one recommended that he disregard them.
Newspaper editors, petitioners, friends and strangers all wrote of their admiration for
Mangum. "It is confidently believed," Alexander Greer wrote in a typical letter, "the
country will sustain you and your worthy colleagues who have thrown themselves into the
16 Raleigh Register. 30 December 1834; 27 January 1835; 2, 10 February 1835.
17 Raleigh Star. 1 January 1835.
18 North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 26 December 1834; 16, 23 January 1835; 6
February 1835.

220
breach to defend the constitution against a band of ruthless ruffians and deluded man
worshipers."19 Shortly into the new year, Willie Mangum decided to limit his letter
writing to appear impartial and antipartisan. To his brother Priestly, this "inattention to
epistolary writing" was unwise, because it "affords neither evidence of your friendship for
us - or any sure guaranty [sic| for building up friendship in others."2'1 Judging by the
volume of mail pouring into his office. Priestly was mistaken.21 This overwhelming show
of support proved encouraging, even emboldening. "I suppose no one imagines that 1 will
submit to the degrading requisition upon me," Mangum wrote to Daniel M. Barringer.
"Seeking to make me the instrument of my own personal degradation," he continued, "I
shall resist it and vote in the face of it with the scorn that I feel for it & some of the
principal authors."22
On March 3, 1834, the last day of the second session of the twenty-third congress,
Mangum submitted the instructions to the senate and announced he would not obey them.
He claimed, without elaboration, that they violated the Constitution, a document he had
sworn to uphold. He repeated his pledge not to be a party to his "own personal
degradation," adding that "he felt it his duty to guard the honor of his state, and not less
19 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:284.
20 Ibid., 2:303.
21 Ibid., 2:263-66, 266-68. 268-69, 270-71, 271-72, 273-75, 275-76, 276-77, 277-278,
278-79, 280, 281-82, 283-84, 287-88, 290-91, 293-94, 294-95, 295-96, 297-99, 299-300,
302-303, 306-309, 317-18.
22Willie P. Mangum to Daniel M. Barringer, 15 February 1835, Daniel Moreau
Barringer Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel
Hill, North Carolina.

221
to guard his own personal honor; both, in his conception, imperiously required him to
disregard the resolutions."23 Beyond that, he "did not . . . consider the Senate the proper
place to give his reasons for disobeying the instructions of the Legislature. That was a
point he was to settle with his constituents."24 The senate, as Mangum and other Whigs
maintained, should hold itself above the partisan fray. It was a place where public opinion
was to be refined, not blindly followed, the bastion where elite republicans stood guard
against an impulsive and unstable majority.25
Again, public reaction to Mangum's stand proved to be, for the most part, positive.
Governor Swain and Walter Mangum were among those to forward their salutations. Both
approved his actions and urged that he stay the course. Other endorsements followed in
quick succession. Richard H. Bonner, a legislator from Beaufort County, organized a
public meeting near his home where citizens signed a petition in support of Mangum.
Similar documents and private testimonials arrived from every part of the state.2h Not
everyone was so inclined. Forty-five people from Charlotte drew up a petition denouncing
the senator. Franklin L. Smith, a Mecklenburg County lawyer, discredited that petition
23 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 23rd Cong., 2nd sess., p.
722.
24 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 23rd Cong., 2nd sess., p. 324.
25 Thomas Brown, Politics and Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), p. 11; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 2:241.
26 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:290-91, 299-300, 319-22, 326-32, 333-
34, 334, 337-38, 338-39, 340-41, 347-48, 355-56, 359-61; Daniel, "David Lowry
Swain," p. 504.

222
as the handiwork of a few salaried politicians and not an accurate reflection of public
sentiment.:7
With the approach of summer. North Carolinians began to make preparations for
outdoor festivities. Scores of them hoped to lure Mangum as their guest of honor. To that
end, they assembled in county courthouses and town halls across the state and passed
resolutions praising Mangum's courage and asking that he come in person to receive their
thanks. Mangum accepted several of the entreaties and made plans for a goodwill tour
of the state. In April he appeared at the first of these public dinners. Held in Raleigh and
attended by more than 150 people, the banquet was a great success. "The utmost hilarity
and good feeling pervaded," the Raleigh Register reported. The honored guests raised
their glasses more than seventy times, toasting everyone and everything from George
Washington to "agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing." Several speakers honored
Mangum. The first one offered: "Our honored guest, Willie P. Mangum - Faithful &
fearless - true to his county's best interest, the Constitution, and the law." With that, the
band went into a rendition of "Come rest in this bosom my own stricken dear." As the
evening drifted into night and the guests sank into inebriety, the toasts became more
maudlin and pugnacious. Walter J. Ramsay lifted his cup to "Willie P. Mangum, as a
statesman and orator, entitled to the appellation of the 'Henry Clay’ of North Carolina."
John Ligón saluted "Hugh L. White and Willie P. Mangum, the next president and vice
president of the United States." David Carter offered a similar toast, doubtless convinced
27
Ibid., 2:335-36.

223
by earlier newspaper reports that Mangum was being considered by leading Whigs to run
for the second office in 1836.28
The tour continued into the summer, taking Mangum to dinners and Fourth of July
celebrations in Salisbury, Fayetteville, and Charlotte. In May, he attended a
commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence. In Mecklenburg County he was hailed as "servant of the people, and not
the Legislature." Afterward, he spoke for two hours in an address highlighted by "biting
sarcasm against the expunging resolutions."21' Mangum used this and other forums to
express his ideas about instructions and to help deflect criticism away from himself and
restore substantive matters to the political debate. While issues national in scope, notably
distribution and slavery, would wait until congress reconvened in December, constitutional
revision, an issue festering in North Carolina state politics for almost forty years, was
about to come to a head. For the time being Mangum could rest easy and watch as
something other than himself took center stage in the political drama.
Reforming the North Carolina state constitution of 1776 had been a source of
contention between eastern and western Tar Heels since the mid-1790s. Westerners
resented the inordinate strength of the eastern counties, an imbalance deliberately worked
into the document by the powerful eastern lawmakers who drafted it. Each county,
regardless of area or population, sent one senator and two commoners to Raleigh, assuring
28 All quotes from, Raleigh Register. 21 April 1835; See also, ibid., 7, 14 April 1835.
29 Western Carolinian (Salisbury), 6 June 1825; Jeffrey, State Parties and National
Politics, p. 43.

a system of representation that favored the east, where far more counties lined the map
than in the west. With a firm hold on the General Assembly, eastern legislators resisted
every effort to surrender a greater share of control to the west. By the mid-1820s,
however, the population of the west had surpassed that of the east and the cry for reform
grew louder and more persistent. Willie Mangum and David Swain soon began to promote
the idea of a constitutional convention. By January 1835, William Gaston and William
Haywood, Jr. had won legislative sanction for the plan. Their cause finally made it
through the General Assembly because eastern proponents of internal improvements knew
that they would eventually need western votes to win approval of their efforts to finance
railroad construction. Both Gaston and Haywood came from the east and, despite their
political differences -- Gaston was a Whig, Haywood a Democrat — both men championed
state funding for internal improvements. Besides, many from the east realized that
constitutional revision was probably inevitable and so decided to go along with their new
western allies.30
According to Gaston and Haywood's bill, each county was to send two delegates
to a convention slated for the early part of June. With Mangum facing an increasingly
belligerent opposition on the instructions question, his friends divided over whether or not
30 Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), pp. 55, 61, 66-67; Marc W. Kruman,
Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1983), p. 11-13; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics,
pp. 83, 89; Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 199; Harold J.
Counihan, "The North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835: A Study in Jacksonian
Democracy," North Carolina Historical Review 46 (1969):337.

225
he should represent Orange County. Paul Cameron, although sympathetic to Mangum's
cause, thought it prudent that his former tutor resist the temptation to "come before the
people at this time" as a candidate in the local race for delegates.31 William Graham.
Frederick Nash, and Priestly Mangum all urged the senator to run. Henry Seawell felt the
same, adding that Mangum probably would be allowed to choose the second delegate if
he so desired. Such flights of fancy never occurred to the pragmatist. He refused to
openly participate, and by so doing, refused to make himself a sideshow in the contest.
In the end, the people of Orange elected William Montgomery and Dr. James S. Smith as
their delegates. For his part, Mangum would exert influence on the convention, but it
would be done quietly, without fanfare and without controversy. That suited him fine.32
On June 4, 1835, the delegates assembled in Raleigh to draft a new state
constitution. Whigs dominated the gathering, laying claim to 75 of the 128 seats. Eastern
delegates tended to be more reactionary than their western counterparts. The document
that came out of the convention reflected the western and Whig influences and marked an
important juncture in the political and social history of North Carolina. It exhibited both
egalitarian and authoritarian impulses. The franchise, for instance, was expanded to
include more white males than ever before, but free black men, who had the vote under
the first constitution, were disfranchised by the second. Delegates agreed to make the
office of governor elective, but left it weak. Reapportionment of the General Assembly
31 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:291.
32 Ibid., 2:301, 302-303, 307; Raleigh Register. 26 May 1835.

226
shifted power westward, but gave the east a slight advantage. Specifically, seats in the
House of Commons were allotted according to population of each county, seats in the
upper chamber according to taxable wealth. This allowed the wealthier eastern counties
to retain control of the Senate while handing oversight of Commons to the more populous
west. Higher property qualifications for voters in senatorial elections and limits on the
amount of taxes that could be levied on slaves sat well with conservative easterners hoping
to tighten their hold on the senate and protect their property rights. Whigs failed in their
bid to preserve borough representation, which fell by the wayside in new constitution. The
Constitution of 1835 retained minimum property qualifications for its membership and
replaced annual elections with biennial state elections.33
Before the new constitution could become law it had to be approved by a majority
of the voters. As expected, the most vocal supporters of the measure came from the
western counties. The Salisbury Western Carolinian recommended passage, as did the
Raleigh Register. Indeed, Whig newspapers across the state came out in favor of the
referendum. Urbanites from the eastern and northeastern part of the state made up the
third prong of the new coalition. Their advocacy of internal improvements and borough
representation cemented an alliance with western Whigs. In the fall of 1835 the people
of North Carolina voted 26,771 to 21,606 in favor of ratification. The final tally repeated
33 Counihan, "The North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835," pp. 336, 340,
345, 347-48, 362-63; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p. 18; Richard P.
McCormick, "Suffrage Classes and Party Alignments: A Study in Voter Behavior,"
Mississippi Valley Historical Review 46 (1959):398; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 11-
14; Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict, p. 44, 62, 199; Hoffman,
Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 86.

227
the old east-west divisions. Ninety percent of those in favor of ratification were from the
western counties while 88 percent of those opposed hailed from the east. Only one eastern
county -- Granville — gave a majority to the new constitution; every western county turned
out in favor. Orange County, Mangum's home, overwhelmingly approved the measure
1031 to 246. On December 3, 1835, Governor Swain officially announced the results.
The new constitution went into effect on January 1, 1836.34
After decades of struggle and deliberation, constitutional revision had become a
reality. The existence of two statewide, mass-based political parties partly explains the
timing of this reform. Alliances transcended regional barriers as politicians from the east,
especially those from the Albemarle Sound region, learned to work with men from the
west. Paradoxically, the new constitution served to hasten the full development of the new
party system. Perhaps the most important change involved the governorship. The fact
that the post was now elective meant that both parties had to build the machinery essential
to running statewide races. In the short term. Whigs proved better at this than their rivals,
due in part to the high caliber and experience of their leaders. Other factors contributed
to this early success. Whigs had earned the loyalty of scores of western voters, who
credited them with reforming the new constitution. Recognized across the state as the
14 Counihan, "The North Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1835," pp. 361-62;
Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 10; J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Party Politics in North
Carolina. 1835-1860 (Durham: Seeman Printery, 1916), p. 14; Raleigh Register. 24
November 1835.

228
party of internal improvements, the Whigs attracted would-be capitalists poised to take part
in the market economy.35
Invigorated by this show of public support for the Whiggish constitution, Willie
Mangum returned to Washington that December to begin the new session of congress. He
looked anxiously ahead to a year that promised a renewal of "the presidential game" and
heated debate over the slavery issue. Southern Whigs, unlike their partners to the north,
expressed very little interest in injecting the moral issues of the Second Great Awakening
into the political discourse. Although moving with Northern Whigs toward loose
construction and the paternalistic state, southern Whigs resented attempts to tamper with
slavery. They worked hard to demonstrate that they were more committed to the
preservation of their "peculiar institution" than the Democrats. The maintenance of party
ties with reform-minded Yankees, however, demanded that they do so in a roundabout
way.36
5 Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 20; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p.
34; Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the
Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1966), p. 206;
Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participation Politics: The Early Republic's Political
Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (1974):486; Max R.
Williams, "William A. Graham: North Carolina Whig Party Leader, 1804-1849" (Ph. D.
dissertation. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1965), p. 265; Hamilton, Party
Politics in North Carolina, p. 15.
'6 Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 18; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 58-59;
Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties, p. 69; Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats", p. 199.

229
In October 1834, Mangum believed that southerners had little to fear from northern
abolitionists, that the tariff represented a greater threat to southern liberties. He would
soon rethink the issue. The increasing number of anti-slavery petitions reaching congress
in the mid-1830s left the southern wing ill at ease. As the senate began its December 1835
proceedings, the question of what to do with these factious petitions had again enveloped
the body. On a related matter, Andrew Jackson asked congress in his annual message to
limit the ability of abolitionists to send their "incendiary publications" through the United
States mail, in effect goading the legislature to action. John Calhoun took the bait, calling
for the establishment of a special select committee to review the question. Willie Mangum
responded as both partisan and pragmatist. He told his friend Calhoun that "he was unable
to lash himself into any excitement on the subject," and that "he had never been able to
apprehend those dangerous results which others seemed to fear." Besides, he added, the
government had no right to stop these mailings. Extending a hand to his northern allies,
he attested to their overall "soundness" on the slavery issue and scolded his fellow
southerners for suggesting that abolitionism was anything other than a fringe movement.
He concluded with a vintage display of pragmatic reasoning. When a second senator
suggested they refer the matter to the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads,
Mangum responded that it was too busy attending to important issues to concern itself with
this one. If his colleague insisted on sending it to committee, he went on, then let it be
reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, one safely ensconced with men Mangum knew and
trusted. But Calhoun refused to yield. He eventually won over the senate, which created

230
a special committee that included Calhoun as chair, Lewis F. Linn of Missouri, John Davis
of Massachusetts, John P. King of Georgia, and Willie Mangum.'7
On February 4, 1836, John Calhoun, speaking for the minority of his special select
committee, read a report to the Senate. Fie also introduced a bill that would outlaw the
postal transmission of "any pamphlet, newspaper, handbill, or other paper, printed or
written, or pictorial representation" about slavery to areas that prohibited the circulation
of such literature. After all five sections were read into the record, Linn, King, and Davis
rose in turn to offer their objections to various parts of the proposal. Mangum alone
among the committee members listened to the report without comment, other than ordering
that the senate print five thousand copies each of the report and the bill.38
Mangum's change of heart can be seen as a function of his utilitarian approach to
politics and policy. On the surface, his support of Calhoun's draconian bill seems to
contradict his earlier assertions that these so-called "incendiary publications" were nothing
of the sort and that the federal government had no power to prevent their dissemination.
However, his remarks in December 1834 were made in response to something Andrew
Jackson had said. Mangum's dislike for the president reflexively led him to take an
opposing view. Once cornered in a committee room by the persuasive Calhoun, a man
7 All quotes from, United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 24th
Cong., 1st sess., pp. 12-13, 26-33; See also. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
2:214; William J. Cooper, Jr, The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), pp. 91-92.
38 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 24th Cong., 1st sess., pp.
383-86.

231
whom he regarded as an intellectual giant, Mangum was induced to see the wisdom of
safeguarding the beleaguered southern institution. As for the inability of the federal
government to act on the matter, Calhoun’s bill promised to grant the government that
right. At this phase of his career, Mangum appeared to be more southern than Whig.
Curiously, that same month Mangum fulfilled a pledge he made sometime earlier
to present a petition calling for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. Honor
bound to give the North Carolina Society of Friends their due, Mangum offered the
memorial on February 19, 1836. The scene recalled an incident from March 1832. when
he presented a memorial from a group of citizens from Granville County requesting the
senate recharter the Second Bank of the United States. In both episodes Mangum acted
opposite to his political position but consistent with his principles. In spite of his
differences with the Quakers and the citizens of Granville, the democrat Mangum saw his
role in republican society clearly. He represented them. Until those same constituents
decided otherwise, he would continue to do so, instructions to the contrary not
withstanding.,y
Fortunately for Mangum, the request sent in by the Quakers was a rarity. Most
North Carolinians, Mangum included, supported the institution of slavery. He represented
them unhesitatingly. His next chance to do so came as congress was debating what to do
with the increasing number of anti-slavery petitions reaching the floor. Mangum
discovered a parliamentarian device that set the precedent for senate inaction. On March
39 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 24th Cong., 1st sess., p. 176.

232
16, 1836, Daniel Webster, following the usual procedure, motioned that several petitions
demanding the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia be sent to the appropriate
committee. Breaking with the established pattern, however, Mangum sprang to his feet
and moved the petitions not be received. He then called for a vote. Next, Benjamin
Watkins Leigh of Virginia moved that Mangum's motion be tabled. This the senate did
unanimously. Thereafter, the senate dealt with subsequent petitions in the same fashion.
As long as pragmatists like Mangum dominated the upper chamber abolitionists would
remain "gagged."40
The emergence of abolitionist societies in the North and the bloody rebellions of
Nat Turner and others bondsmen in the South led men like Mangum gradually to develop
a siege mentality. What he had once considered a chimera was now real. On April 8.
1836, Mangum lashed out at fellow Tar Heel Bedford Brown for failing to recognize the
threat northern abolitionism posed to the southern way of life. From his seat in the senate,
Mangum accused Brown of "dividing the South by crying, 'all's well,' while the storm
was rushing over their heads."41 He also said that abolitionism had found its way into
northern institutions of higher learning and dutifully advised southerners to send their sons
to southern universities. How much of what he said was sincere and how much was
partisan rhetoric is unclear. What is clear is that folks in North Carolina began to see him
40 Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun. Nullifier. 1829-1839 (Indianapolis: The
Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1949), p. 280; Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian
Era: 1828-1848 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1959), p. 108.
41 United States Congress, Register of Debates in Congress. 24th Cong., 1st sess., pp.
1109-16.

233
as a defender of their "peculiar institution." More important, they came to see key
Democrats as abolitionists. Preparing for the presidential election of 1836, Priestly asked
his brother to locate evidence that proved Martin Van Burén had opposed the extension of
slavery during the Missouri compromise debate of 1820. Throughout the South Whigs
pursued the strategy of exaggerating the vice president's tenuous link to the anti-slavery
crusade.42
Mangum knew that the slavery issue had the potential to destroy the new Whig
alliance. From its inception the Whig Party attracted more reform-minded voters than the
Democrats. Divisions within the national organization were insurmountable. As a result,
southern Whigs chose to pursue twin strategies of delay and misdirection. The first
element involved keeping the issue out of the spotlight. The "gag rule" satisfied that. The
second called the Whigs to divert public attention away from slavery and onto other issues,
like internal improvements and distribution. It also called for them to step up their attacks
on Andrew Jackson.43 Sometimes the slavery issue cropped up unexpectedly, as in the
summer of 1836 when the newly independent Republic of Texas petitioned the United
States Senate for formal recognition. The former Mexican state was home to thousands
of slaveholders, giving northerners already afraid of alienating the Mexican government
42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:444, 449; Cooper, The South and the
Politics of Slavery, pp. 74-75; Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 20.
43 David J. Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period and the
Development of Party Loyalty in Congress, 1830-1840,” Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society 62 (1972): 18-19, 24; Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The
Politics of Jacksonian America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1990), p. 9.

234
another reason to oppose the measure. Mangum thought it unwise to resurrect the slavery
issue over Texas, telling his wife he was "utterly opposed to risking the peace of the
country for outlaws & adventurers."44 The debate over Texas soon subsided, and Southern
Whigs, breathing a sigh of relief, resumed their diversionary attacks on Jackson.
In addition to the nettlesome issue of slavery and the disingenuous issue of Andrew
Jackson, North Carolina Whigs during the years 1835 and 1836 began emphasizing three
more. Distributing the revenue derived from the sale of federal lands to the states from
which the land had been taken was a popular notion with most North Carolinians. While
Democrats argued that the scheme was unconstitutional and the depletion of the treasury
surplus would probably lead to higher tariffs, the Whigs favored distribution. Willie
Mangum and David Swain assumed the helm, convincing party officials that this would
be the issue that unified east and west. They were correct. Voters responded
enthusiastically, particularly in the west, where Jackson's pocket veto of Clay’s 1836
version of the bill cost him dearly.45
One reason that distribution was so popular in the west was because it promised to
generate the money needed to pay for rail lines, roads, and public schools without raising
taxes. With that in mind, North Carolina Whig leaders linked distribution and internal
improvements in the minds of voters with great success. Again, the Whigs found
themselves moving in the direction of an activist state, causing great concern among
44 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:437.
45 William S. Hoffman, "The Downfall of the Democrats: The Reaction to Jacksonian
Land Policy," North Carolina Historical Review 33 (1956): 167-68, 177-80.

235
easterners committed to preserving the traditional plantation economy. David L. Swain
offered a new insight to their timeworn arguments by suggesting that new transportation
networks would reduce the cost of moving freight thus increasing the profitability of
staple-crop farming. Planters also believed that they would pay a greater share of the
increased tax burden likely to come with massive state spending. Proceeds from federal
distribution plans, the Whigs countered, would take the place of higher taxes. Still, North
Carolinians were slow to approve railroad construction and other expensive projects as the
debate over how all this was to be financed continued well into the 1850s. The debate did,
however, give the Whigs another unifying issue and helped define them on the state
level.46
Banking and other finance related issues provided them with yet another common
bond. Here, however, Mangum lagged behind fellow Whigs who wished to expand the
role of the state in chartering corporations. He shared his admittedly anachronistic
opinions with the senate, saying that he "believed that all these wealthy corporate
institutions were inimical to a spirit of liberty." "Banks, railroads, stock companies of
every description, might be useful," he conceded, but he was "opposed to them all,
because . . . they were inconsistent with the true spirit of liberty."47 The senator's
Jeffersonian soliloquy not withstanding. North Carolina Whigs, and for that matter
46 Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 69; Harry L. Watson, "Squire Oldway
and his Friends: Opposition to Internal Improvements in Antebellum North Carolina,"
North Carolina Historical Review 54 (1977): 109-111; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp.
7-9, 22-23.
47 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 24th Cong., 1st sess., p. 326.

236
Mangum himself, generally supported easing restrictions on corporate charters. They
believed that granting special privileges to the few ultimately meant greater economic
freedom and opportunity for the many.48
In the national arena, Willie Mangum continued to etch out an identity for the
Whigs beyond simply that of the anti-Jackson party. When Democratic Senator Thomas
Hart Benton of Missouri introduced a bill designed to channel the treasury surplus into
building up the nation's defenses Mangum and the Whigs, who had earmarked the funds
for distribution, responded with alarm. Benton argued that a long-standing dispute
between France and the United States over France's failure to pay a five million dollar
reparations claims dating back to the Napoleonic Wars had reached a standstill. The
United States, he reasoned, had no alternative but to prepare for war. On February 3,
1836, Mangum replied to the Democrats in a speech to the senate. This saber rattling, he
contended, was a ruse designed to divert funds from the people of the individual states to
"the general Government, and its office holders, friends, and retainers."49
In 1831 France and the United States concluded their treaty of reparations. As of
December 1834, however, the French had yet to pay anything. That month Andrew
48 Herbert Ershkowitz and William G. Shade, "Consensus or Conflict? Political
Behavior in the State Legislatures during the Jacksonian Era," Journal of American History
58 (1971):596-97; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:205; Russo, "The Major
Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period," pp. 4, 28; Kruman, Parties and Politics, pp. 24-
25.
49 Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:602; See also, Hoffman,
Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 98; Wiltse, John C. Calhoun, pp. 240-42;
Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 82, 101-103.

237
Jackson set Democratic Party policy by suggesting that the American government begin
seizing French property and continue to do so until they agree to abide by the agreement.
That proposal was then sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Mangum.
Clay, and three other members considered what to do next while the rest of congress and
newspaper editors across the nation spoke of war. On January 6, 1835, Clay submitted
their findings. In essence the committee agreed with the president that the United States
had legitimate grievances with the French, but disagreed over how they should be
redressed. They advised the senate to exhaust all peaceful means of settlement before
granting Jackson sweeping authority to seize French holdings. Thus, the Whig position
was born.5"
Mangum confirmed that position in his speech. He also accused Benton of using
the French spoliation controversy to carry out his partisan agenda, specifically, looting the
treasury to such an extent that there would be nothing left for Whigs to distribute.
Mangum wanted to expose Benton while simultaneously extolling his own party and its
policies. Calling up familiar themes of antipartyism, republicanism and states rights, he
also used the time to attack the doctrine of instructions and portray Jackson as dictatorial
and corrupt. Surplus money from the treasury, the North Carolinian asserted, should be
awarded to the states to be used to construct schools and railroads, not enrich bankers and
build up the party's war chest, as the president most certainly intended. Relative to the
issue of executive tyranny was the question of instructions and whether Mangum should
50 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, pp. 82, 101-103; Wiltse, John C. Calhoun, pp.
240-42; Hoffman, Andrew Jackson and North Carolina Politics, p. 98.

238
ignore those given him by the legislature. He insisted that he would not give in to their
demands. "If the Senate shall be permanently broken, either by direct action upon it," he
said in reference to Benton's appropriations bill, "or indirectly through the State
Legislatures, one of the great safeguards of liberty will have fallen." Again, Mangum
repeated his contention that the instructions debate was something far more profound than
his enemies wanted to let on. To him, nothing less than the Republic itself was at stake.51
"We here generally approve of your course," William Roane of Burke County
wrote Mangum, "I am a republican of the old school. I loath standing armies & extensive
navies."52 A flurry of notes of support and encouragement similar to this followed
Mangum's speech. Both county-level and high-ranking state officials sent their well
wishes.5’ Still, none seemed to reassure the despondent senator. On May 22, 1836. he
confided to his wife that he was "sick and tired of [hisJ daily attendance on Congress. -
The business is dull & uninteresting, and every thing is going wrong, and almost to
ruin."54 The Whigs had reached an impasse. Unwilling to force their man out and unable
to prevent his expulsion, they could only wait for the next election.55 Fortunately for
them, their rivals were just as uncertain about their next move. "I have been not a little
perplexed about what should be done with the Mangum case," Democrat Weldon R.
51 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:598.
52 Ibid., 2:443.
53 Ibid., 2:412, 474-75.
54 Ibid., 2:437.
55 Raleigh Register. 21 July 1836.

239
Edwards wrote late in 1835. Six months later he and the Democrats were no closer to an
answer, they only knew that Mangum's refusal to comply with his instructions would be
the major issue in the first statewide campaign for governor.56
The unusually long session partly explains Mangum's dark mood; the uncertain fate
of his fellow Whigs explains it better still. Senators Theodore Frelinghuysen and Samuel
Southard, both of New Jersey, Peleg Sprague of Maine, and Thomas Ewing of Ohio, all
received, and voted contrary to, unwelcome instructions from their respective state
assemblies. Of the four, only Sprague was driven from office. He remained defiant,
however, never acknowledging the legitimacy of the doctrine. Senator John Tyler of
Virginia, on the other hand, did. When his state legislature instructed him to vote in favor
of the same expunging resolution Mangum had rejected, Tyler felt he had no alternative
but to step down, which he did on February 29, 1836. Weston R. Gales of the Raleigh
Register spoke for the Whigs when he wrote that Tyler had "egregiously erred" in
resigning. Not only did it represent the "strongest rebuke of Whig principles," Tyler's exit
had thinned their ranks in the senate and denied them a vehement proponent of states rights
and likely vice presidential nominee.57 Mangum was now the lone member of the senate
willing to disobey instructions on the expunging question.56
56 Weldon Edwards to Romulus Saunders, 5 October 1835, Katherine Clark Pendleton
Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.
57 Raleigh Register. 8, 26 March 1836.
58 Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period," p. 34; William S.
Hoffman, "The Election of 1836 in North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review
32 (1955): 40.

240
The long-anticipated North Carolina gubernatorial and presidential elections of
1836 were turning points for Mangum and the Whig Party. As a frequent commentator
on the unfolding events, Mangum offers unique insights into the workings of this much
studied election. His opinions of the candidates and issues seemed to change from month
to month. All that remained constant was his ever-present hand guiding state and national
races. He made his presence known in corridors, cloakrooms and taverns and on the front
pages of newspapers from as far away as New York City to nearby Oxford, North
Carolina. Always his compatriots recognized him as an important player in their national
pastime — "the presidential game."59
Between December 1833 and December 1834, Mangum went from supporting one
presidential candidate to another, from deep despair over his party's chances to faint hope
some miracle would change the inevitable. This was vintage Mangum: Forever hedging
his bets, waiting to see how the party and the public would react to events, always ready
to side with the most popular, the most moderate alternative. Late in 1833 he still
regarded his friend Calhoun as the man worthiest of the presidency, though equally
confident the nullifier could never win. He therefore proposed that Whigs in his state
support party stalwart Henry Clay or John McLean of Ohio. Both men appeared
sufficiently moderate and both had national appeal. Personally, Mangum leaned toward
Clay, more heavily still after being reassured that the Kentuckian would not "tread upon
59 Richard P. McCormick, The Presidential Game: The Origins of American
Presidential Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 171; Richard P.
McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy’ in 1836?” Journal of the Early Republic 4
(1984):55.

241
our principles," meaning states rights.60 In February of 1834, Mangum was still
committed to Clay and, more importantly, vehemently opposed to Martin Van Burén. He
was even willing to back someone wholly unsuited to the job to defeat the New Yorker.
"Many in North Carolina are looking to Judge McLean," he wrote Duncan Cameron, "it
is a miserable choice - weak in ability, & weaker in purpose, he is in almost every way
unfit - yet I [would] prefer him to V.B."61 Meanwhile, Mangum worked unseen to
nominate a man qualified to serve and capable of winning. Working with Senator William
Campbell Preston of South Carolina, a man with whom he would build a lifelong
friendship, Mangum scuttled a Calhoun-for-president movement brewing among southern
states rights Whigs. The thought of such "madness and folly" clearly worried the
moderate. Buttonholing its leaders in the seclusion of boardinghouses and darkened street
corners and using "violent, almost indecent denunciation," he put a stop to the Calhoun
movement.62
Mangum continued with his quiet indecision into the fall and early winter of 1834.
While touring the New England and mid-Atlantic states he became convinced that
cooperation between the regions was impossible. His loss of hope is captured in letters
home. Clay had fallen from favor, a casualty of Mangum's plan to lead former nullifiers
into the Whig camp. His association with the tariff had rendered him unacceptable.
60 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P, Mangum. 2:52.
61 Ibid., 2:75.
62 Willie P. Mangum to Henry Clay, 26 March 1838, Clay Mss., Manuscripts
Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

242
Calhoun remained so for the same reasons Mangum had cited the previous December.
And although Mangum preferred Calhoun to the rest of the field, "practicality, not just
principles," he wrote John Beard, "should determine our course." Only McLean, a man
Mangum found lacking in basic principles, remained. "When I think of him, l think of
a Gentleman in wooden patterns on a pedestal of ice, who moves N[orth] S[outh| East or
West on the slightest external pressure." Even with McLean at the top of the ticket,
Mangum conceded. Van Burén was sure to win.63
By December 1834 Mangum had settled on "a choice of evils” and threw' his
support to Hugh Lawson White of Tennessee.64 The move to nominate White as the Whig
candidate for president had been gaining momentum in the south for some time. Now
Mangum was ready to join the movement. On December 28, 1834, after speaking with
friends and allowing his decision to sink in, Mangum began to express hope. "If there is
unity of action," he wrote William Graham, "we might yet prevail."65 The following
February he showed more enthusiasm. "I go for White decidedly & without misgiving,"
Mangum informed Daniel M. Barringer, "I think he will make a good, honest, firm, &
reasonably intelligent President." Mangum added that White had all the qualities and
virtues southerners looked for in a leader. The senator from Tennessee represented "the
people," not "office holders," Mangum’s common pejorative for the Democrats. White
6j Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:217.
64 Ibid., 2:247.
65
Ibid., 2:261.

243
was "anti kitchen & anti official corps,” and, best of all, he was a southerner.56 After a
year of wandering from one hopeful to another, Mangum had made a decision. It had
been reached after countless closed-door meetings involving secretive conversations
between powerful officials. The full story of what Mangum called "the secret history of
’34," the story of how he and a handful of North Carolina Whigs steered their party away
from extremism and toward moderation, can never be fully told; the details died with the
participants. What is known is that any semblance of genuine democracy was left behind
in a blind rush to save democracy.6.
In May 1835 Democrats from around the country gathered in Baltimore and
nominated Martin Van Burén to be their presidential candidate in the upcoming election.
By the standards of the day, the convention had functioned smoothly. In contrast, the
national Whig Party, in realty a loose amalgam of state organizations, did not even hold
a national convention. Instead, local and state meetings produced three candidates, each
representing a different region and a different vision of Whiggery. Nominated by a group
of Massachusetts legislators, Daniel Webster eventually appeared on presidential ballots
throughout New England. William Henry Harrison of Ohio won his nomination from the
Pennsylvania state convention and was regarded as the western candidate. First put
forward by a caucus of Tennessee legislators, Hugh Lawson White emerged as the favorite
66 Willie P. Mangum to Daniel Moreau Barringer, 15 February 1835, Daniel Moreau
Barringer Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel
Hill, North Carolina.
67 Willie P. Mangum to Henry Clay, 26 March 1838, Clay Mss., Manuscripts
Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

244
son of the South. What little national coordination the Whigs did have went into
convincing Henry Clay to keep his hat out of the ring. Nevertheless, friendly editors and
local commentators considered Clay and other nationally-renowned Whigs as presidential
timber.68 Major Noah of the New York Evening Star recommended that the Whigs
nominate Willie Mangum for president. Washington, D.C. journalist Anne Newport
Royall told Mangum that his name had been mentioned in connection with the second spot
on the White ticket. North Carolina editors both for and against the senator proudly
reported these tributes to their readers. But for the most part. Mangum preferred to work
outside of the intense glare of public scrutiny and resisted such flattering entreaties.69
Stepping out of the shadows of anonymity and party intrigue, Mangum campaigned
publicly for White, who officially became the presidential nominee of the North Carolina
Whig Party in December 1835. Long before the state convention, Mangum had helped
to organize local rallies and congressional campaigns as well as the convention itself. His
work earned him the admiration of legions of party officials, many of whom supported an
effort to nominate Mangum to be the next governor, a prospect that caused Democrats to
salivate. Mangum knew that he had become too controversial a figure to withstand a
statewide popular election and declined the invitation. The Democrats would still have to
68 Joel Silbey, "Election of 1836," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and
William P. Hansen, eds., History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4 vols.
(New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:580, 584-85, 588-89, 593-94; Hoffman,
"The Election of 1836," pp. 31, 37.
69 Western Carolinian (Salisbury), 6 December 1834; North Carolina Standard
(Raleigh), 5 December 1834; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:361-62.

245
take on Mangum indirectly through local races for assemblymen. At their state convention
the Whigs made Edward Dudley their gubernatorial nominee and the race was on. Again,
Mangum took the initiative coordinating the North Carolina Whigs. Collecting speeches
and franking them to various parts of the state, appearing at local assemblies, and raising
money for floundering Whig papers, Willie Mangum involved himself at every level and
in every facet of the organization.71’
Southern supporters of White paraded their man as a friend of republics, an enemy
of political parties, and a southerner. North Carolina lawmakers took pride in announcing
that they had nominated White "not in their character as legislators," as they alleged the
Democrats had done with Van Burén, "but as private individuals."71 Stressing their
minority status, the Whigs made a virtue of weakness. The "Little Magician" and the
"Party," as Mangum liked to call the nominee and his party, behaved as if politics was a
conjurer's parlor trick; smoke and mirrors, not truth and rectitude, guided events. They
had stained the fabric of the republic with their conventions and campaigns. All this talk
of principle, however, hid a pragmatic reality. The Whigs campaigned just as hard, if not
harder, than the Democrats. Harrison personally canvassed the nation on a three-month
speaking tour, something no presidential candidate had done before. Their failure to hold
70 Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 22, 33, 42-43, 93; Julian Mclver
Pleasants, "The Political Career of Willie Person Mangum, 1828-1840," (M.A. thesis.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1962), p. 57; Hamilton, Party Politics in
North Carolina, pp. 35, 38-39; North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 21 December 1835;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:323, 377, 401-402, 409-11, 416-17, 422,
429.
71 Raleigh Register. 29 December 1835.

246
a national convention was more a sign of discord and confusion than it was evidence of
Whig righteousness. From such a weak vantage, the Whigs had no choice but to undertake
this style of offensive.72
The very presence of the New Yorker in Washington symbolized for Mangum a
decline in public virtue. "Are we to be led by a fox?" he once asked, implying great
republics should be commanded by majestic beasts, like lions or eagles, not by creatures
known for their cunning and guile, like the fox, or Martin Van Burén.7' Whigs in Raleigh
portrayed Van Burén as the antithesis of a republican, even going so far as to exaggerate
his ties to that most unrepublican institution, the Catholic Church. In April 1836, John
Barnett of Person County requested that Mangum forward "any document that will prove
Mr. Vanburian [sic] has any leaning toward the Roman Catholicks [sic]."74 Whigs in
every region used virtually the same tactics and similar rhetoric to prove that the
Democrats were base and immoral.75
72 Silbey, "Election of 1836,” pp. 585-87, 595; William G. Shade, "Political Pluralism
and Party Development: The Creation of a Modern Party System, 1815-1852," in Paul
Kleppner, Walter Dean Burnham, Ronald P. Formisano, Samuel P. Hayes, Richard
Jensen, and William G. Shade, eds., The Evolution of American Electoral Systems
(Westport: Greenwood Press, 1981), p. 81; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy'
in 1836?" pp. 47, 67.
73 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:595-96.
74 Ibid., 2:430.
75Jonathan M. Atkins, "The Presidential Candidacy of Hugh Lawson White in
Tennessee, 1832-1836," The Journal of Southern History 58 (1992):39-39; Shanks, The
Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:75.

247
In the South, Whigs injected a regional spin in the campaign against Van Burén.
At first, they tried to tie the vice president to abolitionism and the efforts to prohibit
slavery in the District of Columbia and enfranchise free blacks in New York. They said
he stood for all the programs every true southerner opposed, like federally funded internal
improvements and the Tariff of 1828. Even his support of DeWitt Clinton over Virginian
James Madison in 1812 was given as evidence that he was hostile to the South.76 To North
Carolina Whigs, Martin Van Burén was the "Northern" candidate. Edward Dudley
captured this sentiment when he said, "Mr. Van Burén is not one of us. He is a northern
man ... in soul, in principle, and in action."77
Hugh Lawson White, in contrast to Van Burén, was the "Southern" candidate.
Having only recently discarded the label "Jacksonian," the antipartisan White disliked
being called a "Whig." He was the candidate selected by popular conventions and town
meetings who promised to protect the rights of the states and defend southern liberty. The
Hillsborough Recorder, a Whig paper, featured the banner, "Republican Whig Ticket: The
People Against the Caucus," over the names of Hugh White and his running mate John
Tyler. Above the names of Van Burén and Richard M. Johnson, the Democratic vice
presidential candidate, appeared the loaded phrase, "Baltimore Nomination," nothing
more. These were the only names on the state's presidential ballot, leaving North Carolina
76 Hoffman, "The Election of 1836," p. 46.
77 Quoted in, Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, p. 82.

248
Whigs to describe the contest as one pitting a southern statesman against a northern
spoilsman.78
In August 1836, North Carolina voters went to the polls and selected Edward
Dudley to be their governor. A few Whig leaders believed that this portended a victory
for White in the November balloting. Mangum took it to be an endorsement of his refusal
to obey instructions. Others were less sanguine. State races had been run on issues
separate from those raised in the national contest. The popularity of Dudley and the Whig
record on distribution won countless votes for their party. So too did local issues. Whigs
and Democrats both made an issue of Mangum. The former attacked their rivals as
shameless partisans bent on removing a faithful public servant from his post while the
latter suggested that Mangum had scorned the people by not acceding to the instructions.
Voter turnout in August topped 67 percent, a fact that helped the increasingly popular
Whigs, whose leaders hoped that Dudley's popularity and his plurality of four thousand
votes would carry over into the Fall.79
78 William J. Cooper, Jr., Liberty and Slavery: Southern Politics to 1860 (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), pp. 187, 191; Atkins, "The Presidential Candidacy of Hugh
Lawson White," p. 51; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig Strategy' in 1836?” p. 62;
Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 20; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, p. 160;
Hillsborough Recorder. 14 October 1836.
79 Willie P. Mangum to Henry Clay, 26 March 1838, Clay Mss., Manuscripts
Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana; Hillsborough
Recorder. 14 October 1836; Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the
Doctrine of Instructions," pp. 351-52; Burton W. Folsom, II, "Party Formation &
Development in Jacksonian America: The Old South," Journal of American Studies 7
(1973):224; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 62-63.

249
Mangum's immediate concern was not the gubernatorial race but the many local
contests to fill the General Assembly. They would decide his future. Results from
counties and districts began drifting into Raleigh in mid-August. Because election days
varied from one precinct to the next, the outcome remained uncertain for weeks after the
last polling place had closed its doors. Deficient communication and transportation
networks only added to the delay. In September Mangum decided to stand or fall with the
popular vote. If the people turned out a Whig majority he would remain, if they spoke
otherwise he would retire. Early returns pointed to a Whig triumph, giving the senator
a reason to proclaim his vindication. He had spoken too soon. The final tally left the
Whigs with a one-seat advantage in the senate and the Democrats with a one-seat majority
in Commons; neither party controlled the legislature. Willie Mangum's future was still
in doubt.xo
Martin Van Burén, on the other hand, won a clear victory in the November
election. He won 170 of the 294 available electoral votes, including most of those in the
South. White captured his home state of Tennessee and Georgia. North Carolina awarded
its fifteen electoral votes to the New Yorker. Van Burén and Johnson took 26,910 popular
votes, while White and Tyler garnered 23,626. Voters in Orange County joined the rest
of the state by handing a slim majority to Van Burén. Voter participation dropped to 53
percent, an indication that many of the North Carolinians who had voted for Dudley in
80 Hillsborough Recorder. 14 October 1836; Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 21.

250
August refused to give their votes to White and maybe send the election into the House of
Representatives/1
In 1836 South Carolina was the only state to award its electoral votes through the
state legislature rather than by popular vote. There the slates that appeared in the other
states had no bearing. Legislators were free to choose whomever they pleased, regardless
of whether or not the recipient was in contention elsewhere. Unlike many of their
neighbors. South Carolinians had never been enthusiastic about White because he had sided
with the administration during the Force Bill debate. Van Burén had even less support.
But by the time state legislators had converged on Columbia to award their state's eleven
electoral votes. Van Burén had already won. The only thing left for them to do was to
lodge a protest, either by handing in a blank ballot or rewarding an old friend, preferably
a states rights southerner. After quickly abandoning the first option, the assemblage
weighed the merits of several contenders and decided upon their neighbor to the north,
Willie Mangum. The Tar Heel enjoyed close friendships with both their Senators —
Calhoun and Preston — and, unlike White, stood by the former during the Force Bill crisis.
And although he did not always support Calhoun's policies, Mangum could always be
trusted to express his dissent honestly. This meant a great deal to Calhoun, who held the
legislature in his iron grip: "When John C. Calhoun took snuff," one historian joked.
X| Silbey, "Election of 1836," pp. 595-96, 640; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig
Strategy' in 1836?" p. 68; Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 21; Raleigh Star. 17
November 1836; Hoffman, "The Election of 1836," p. 51.

251
"South Carolina sneezed." Sneeze they did, handing Mangum and Tyler their eleven votes
in December 1836.82
The movement to elect White, though a failure, strengthened the Whig Party in the
South. Despite their defeat, Whigs from all over the country made significant headway
in their drive to become a truly national organization. Two-party politics became a reality
in North Carolina and across the nation. Statewide elections for governor and president
meant statewide coordination and organization. Democrats suffered a severe blow in the
South, losing 18 percent of their support in the slave states over the previous presidential
election. William Henry Harrison, who won electoral votes in every region, emerged as
a national figure and a likely front runner for the next presidential election. Willie
Mangum also stood taller. Endorsements from the northern press and the South Carolina
General Assembly showed his appeal knew no regional boundary. His career seemed
ready to soar. Then fate stepped in and brought him back to earth.83
82 Quote taken from, William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at
Bay. 1776-1854 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 345; See also, Samuel
Gaillard Stoney, ed., "Memoirs of Frederick Adolphus Porcher," The South Carolina
Historical and Genealogical Magazine 46 (1946):33; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship,
p. 6; Claude G. Bowers, Party Battles in the Jackson Period (New York: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1922), p. 433; W. Edwin Hemphill, Robert L. Meriwether, and Clyde
Wilson, eds., The Papers of John C. Calhoun. 20 vols. (Columbia: University of South
Carolina Press, 1959-1991), 13:257; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:763;
South Carolina General Assembly, Resolutions 1836, no. 13, South Carolina Department
of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.
83 Harrison won Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware. Maryland, Ohio. Indiana, and
Kentucky. Silbey, "Election of 1836," pp. 594-97, 640; McCormick, "Was There a 'Whig
Strategy' in 1836?" p. 68; Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 20; Lynn L. Marshall, "The
Strange Stillbirth of the Whig Party," American Historical Review 72 (1967):463.

252
Just days before the presidential election in November, one Whig member of the
state legislature took ill and had to resign and a second died. The governor called for a
special election to fill the two vacancies. Sensing defeat, Mangum toyed with the idea of
resigning so as to avoid being an issue in yet another election, a move William Graham
and the other Whig leaders thought premature. On November 4, 1836, Graham wrote
Mangum to bolster his sagging confidence. He told the senator that the Whigs were
counting on him to fight a good fight, to hold his ground and not let his party down.
Mangum felt obliged to his party, and although he would just as soon step aside he knew
there was more at stake than himself. So he waited. Later that month, just as the new
session was about to start, the voters elected two more Democrats to the legislature.
Mangum had held on as long as he could, but now the people had spoken. On November
26, 1836, after giving the matter "mature consideration," he fulfilled his promise to abide
by the people's decision and handed in his resignation. He assured his friends that what
he had done was in the best interests of the country and promised he would "not look back
with any regrets. ',84
'4 Quotes from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:474-75, 479-80. See
also, Raleigh Register. 21, 29 November 1836; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Journal of the House of Commons of North Carolina (Raleigh: State Printer, 1836), p.
276; John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government. 1585-1974: A Narrative and
Statistical History (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975),
p. 743; J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed.. The Papers of Thomas Ruffin. 4 vols. (Raleigh:
Edwards and Broughton, 1918-1920), 2:163-64; Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the
Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," pp. 353-54; Hamilton, Party Politics in
North Carolina, pp. 41-42; Clarence C. Norton, The Democratic Party in Ante-Bellum
North Carolina. 1835-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1930), p.
76.

253
"Judge Mangum sent in his resignation today," James Bryan informed his brother,
"his weak & timid course has justly excited the indignation of the Whigs."85 "It was with
much regret I heard of your resignation," John Shackford, senate doorkeeper and Sergeant-
at-arms, wrote Mangum, adding that seeing the senator "leaving the councills |sic| of the
nation" caused him anguish.86 Like Mangum's contemporaries, historians have offered
different interpretations of the events leading to his resignation. William S. Hoffman,
Mangum's most severe critic, saw the Judge as a grasping opportunist whose political ploy
to "revival of the doctrine of instruction" had backfired.'7 Clement Eaton, on the other
hand, lionized Mangum for his "remarkable display of moral courage."88 Hoffman's
arguments are problematic. He accepts the Democratic rhetoric of the 1830s with never
a doubt. He failed to explore the nature of political alliances, contemporary images of
partisan politics, or republican ideology. His arguments, in short, lack a subtle
understanding of nineteenth-century political mentalite. For his part, Eaton romanticizes
Mangum and misses his complex motivations.
Mangum best summarized the entire episode and his feelings about instructions
years after he resigned. Late one March night in 1844, Mangum and his friend James T.
Morehead, after declaring themselves "all duly sober," advised John M. Clayton that he
85 James West Bryan to his brother, 26 November 1836, Bryan Family Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina.
86 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:485.
87Hoffman, "Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of
Instructions."
88Eaton, "Southern Senators and the Right of Instruction," p. 305.

254
"must obey instructions - the instructions of friends - They are imperative." "Those from
our enemies," the pair offered, "we may disobey & damn, without breach of any moral
or religious obligation." He believed his cause to be moral and just and that is why he
acted as he did. Mangum joined the Whig Party for many reasons. One was his belief
that they defended the constitution and morality better than the Democrats. He also saw
the Whig Party as the best avenue to political power. So, both Hoffman and Eaton spoke
the truth. Principles and pragmatism drove him to the Whigs, principles and pragmatism
kept him in the fold.89
89 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:75.

CHAPTER 8
WALNUT HALL
"It was with infinite regret that after my arrival here, I was informed of your
resignation," Senator John Crittenden wrote Willie Mangum from Washington, D.C., in
December 1836. After scolding his former associate for giving in to his enemies, the
Kentuckian asked if Mangum had any intention of visiting him that winter so the two could
"walk over (our] old battle fields."1 Someday maybe. Mangum probably thought to
himself, but not in the foreseeable future. For now he would walk the tobacco and corn
fields of his plantation near Red Mountain. For the foreseeable future he would devote
more time to his family, catch up with his reading, tend to his horses, and renew his law
practice. For the foreseeable future he would be spending his days and nights with friends
and family at the plantation house he called Walnut Hall.
The lord of Walnut Hall carried himself with an aristocratic bearing common to the
southern gentry. Standing just over six feet tall with a medium build, he cut an impressive
figure. His clean-shaven face and dark hair, though receding, belied his advancing age.
Late in 1844, as he approached his fifty-third birthday, one journalist noted that Mangum
looked ten or fifteen years younger than his reported age. His fair complexion and stern
' Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 2:483-84.
255

256
countenance conveyed an air of command and dignity. One portrait painter who saw
Mangum from the senate gallery wrote he "rather liked the looks of Mr. Mangum," and
family lore has it that the senator possessed a magnetism women found appealing/
Complementing Mangum's striking physical appearance was his habit of dress.
Exceptionally well groomed, he liked to be seen wearing finely-tailored, neatly-pressed
suits while sporting a silver-tipped mahogany walking stick engraved with his name. A
silk top hat, silk handkerchiefs, silk gloves, and high shoes completed this carefully crafted
look. Slightly more flamboyant in his choice of apparel than the average planter, Mangum
took special pride in his outward appearance. Though he preferred to cover himself from
head to toe in black, as most members of the gentry were inclined to do, Mangum would
from time to time don a "raven green cloth coat" or "elastic green suspenders."3 Despite
lingering financial difficulties, he made frequent visits to clothiers in both North Carolina
and Washington, D.C. to update his wardrobe. By the standards of his day, Mangum was
uncommonly clean, bathing in cold water every morning and changing his linen daily.4
3 Quote from. The diary of Curran Swaim, 1852, Lyndon Swaim Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina. See also. Jack Larkin,
The Reshaping of Everyday Life. 1790-1840 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), p. 152;
Cleveland Plain Dealer. 25 June 1846; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861;
Shirley Jones Mallard, "Marcus Harris Mangum: His Ancestors and His Descendants,"
North Carolina Collection, Durham County Public Library, Durham, North Carolina, p.
27.
3 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:57. 155.
4 Reminiscences of an unknown author, Willie P. Mangum Lamily Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.; Guión Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A
Social History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937), p. 90; Philip
Greven, The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing. Religious Experience.

257
Beneath his impressive physical and sartorial exterior was an equally striking
personality. Almost universally regarded as a man of great integrity, frankness, and
honor, Willie Mangum was well suited to his chosen profession. He seemed to treat all
people the same way, whatever their social standing, age, or political affiliation. As a
public speaker he won the acclaim of some of the best judges of his generation, many of
whom commented on his mellifluous voice and superior powers of persuasion. His
conversational talents surpassed his remarkable abilities as an orator, which may explain
his predilection for back-room, face-to-face politics. An inexhaustible talker, Mangum
also proved an attentive listener. He enjoyed discussing any number of subjects with
friends or with fellow travelers on a stagecoach. Usually, talk would turn to politics, a
subject Mangum could talk about for hours. After his children reached adulthood he
would regale them with tales of past conquests or favor them with his insights into current
affairs. Letters and speeches reveal him to be a man blessed with a healthy sense of
humor. Even the official records of Congress include notations where Mangum was
interrupted by the sustained laughter of his colleagues after he had delivered a customary
bon mot. When directed at his opponents, Mangum’s tongue could be caustic, his humor
sarcastic. For the most part, however, Mangum exhibited a pleasant, generous nature.
He rarely provoked anger or bitterness in those who knew him well. Intellectually, the
North Carolinian appeared to be of above average intelligence, but far from brilliant. His
writings show no evidence of profundity and reveal no complex theories. They do show
and the Self in Early America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977), p. 303; Shanks, Thj
Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:211; 5:751.

258
him to be familiar with literature, history, and the bible, and equipped with a capacity to
judge people and foretell events.5
For the better part of his life, Willie Mangum enjoyed good health. Aside from
regular complaints about constipation, an occasional cold, fever, or toothache, the Judge
seemed fit. His digestive troubles may have been induced by his reluctance to eat
vegetables. The self-professed carnivore quipped that greens were intended as food "for
four-footed animals & not bipeds."6 As a young man, he rose early each morning and did
calisthenics, a habit that waned with time. Horseback riding gave him great pleasure while
providing an invigorating form of exercise. Any benefits he may have derived from these
activities were offset by his excessive fondness for alcohol. In the past, historians like
Claude Bowers attributed Mangum's personal and professional decline to his alcohol
abuse. Recent studies have suggested that the senator may not have been behaving out of
the ordinary, that nineteenth-century Americans in general consumed large quantities of
5 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:41-42, 75, 347-48; 5:430, 433-35, 594,
645; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861; Stephen B. Weeks, "Willie Person
Mangum," in Biographical History of North Carolina: From Colonial Times to the
Present. Samuel A. Ashe, ed., 8 vols. (Greensboro: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905-1917),
5:253-56; William A. Norwood to Samuel Willard Tillingham, 20 March 1840, William
Norwood Tillingham Papers, Special Collections, Duke University Library, Durham,
North Carolina; Unknown to Willie P. Mangum, 10 February 1835, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Martha Person Mangum. Diary,
8 June 1853, 8 January 1854, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.; Orlando Brown to John J. Crittenden, 11 February 1836. John Jordan
Crittenden Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; John B. Fry to John J.
Crittenden, 25 September 1861, John Jordan Crittenden Papers, Library of Congress.
Washington, D.C.
6 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:181.

259
alcohol. Mangum departed from the national trend, however, by being perceived as
habitually intoxicated and unable to control himself. Displays of public drunkenness by
men of his standing, especially at inappropriate times, were seen as signs of depravity and
weakness. This apparent flaw, more than any of his other characteristics, helps explains
why Mangum, who was otherwise highly regarded by both the public and his peers, rose
only so far in American politics.7
Among southern males, drinking and conviviality were expected, even essential
parts of their social routines. Alcohol flowed freely at most fraternal functions. For this
reason, Mangum excelled in the company of other men. In his youth he did not seem to
drink to excess and even condemned the practice. From an early age, however, he showed
himself to be a connoisseur of fine wines and other spirits. As with his clothing, Mangum
spent lavishly. Buying the best vintages, he decanted and served with the utmost care.
He stocked his private reserve with the finest French brandy he could find and purchased
wine by the case. Locally distilled spirits also satisfied his refined palate. One visitor to
Walnut Hall noted the peculiar way in which Mangum downed the native stock. After
filling his glass with Orange County apple brandy, he tossed in a lump of sugar. Mangum
then drank it quickly and poured another, all the while chomping loudly on the sugar cube.
7 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:209; 3:428; Claude G. Bowers, Party
Battles in the Jackson Period (New York; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922), pp. 271-72;
W. J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1979), pp. 7-10, 14-19; Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina, p. 97;
Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, p. 172.

260
His unfortunate guest missed much of what his host had to say because of the noise made
by the crunching sugar cane.x
Little evidence exists to suggest that Mangum drank alone. During periods of
solitude, the former senator amused himself in a variety of ways. First among his
pastimes was reading. Mangum devoured books, newspapers, and journals. His tastes
leaned toward nonfiction, primarily political tracts, biographies, and essays. The writings
of Sir Edmund Burke left an impression on the senator and like scores of readers from his
era he could cite James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson from memory. His modest
home library featured works of fiction, including several plays by William Shakespeare
as well as the novels of some lesser-known authors. Mangum's passion for literature and
careless borrowing practices placed him at odds with the Librarian of Congress, who made
repeated efforts to retrieve overdue books Mangum regretfully mislaid. He subscribed to
several newspapers and legal journals to keep ahead in his two professions, politics and
law.9
y Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics & Behavior in the Old South (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 278-79; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 2:343; 3:406-407; Willie P. Mangum to Charity A. Mangum, 28 December
1845, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Willie
P. Mangum to Mr. Webb, 11 June 1846, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.: Reminiscences of an unknown author, Willie P. Mangum
Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
9 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:211; 3:374; 5:201-202, 425; Librarian
of Congress to Willie P. Mangum, 9 April 1845, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

261
Mangum enjoyed spending his tree time outdoors. Horseback riding and raising
thoroughbreds gave him immeasurable pleasure. He attended horse shows with the
intention of buying breeders and for a brief time fanaticized about leaving politics to
become "a sportsman," raising herds of prizewinning colts and moving in the circles of
the idle gentry. Such dreams never materialized. His love of competition, however, did
lead him to play chess and draughts. Mangum possessed a nineteenth-century romantic's
image of nature and wildlife and was especially drawn to birds. He often took long strolls
on his property. One visitor recalled that on one such occasion Mangum brought along
his violin, which he played as he walked. The Judge confided to his companion that
"some of his happiest thoughts were conceived while drawing the bow across the
instrument."10 In 1841, Mangum purchased a piano for the express purpose that his
daughters learn to play. In the evenings, one of them would give a recital for her
appreciative parents. Sally, his firstborn, preferred reels, waltzes, and marches, while
Martha, his second child, favored the livelier polka. Music soothed Mangum, who visited
churches just to hear the "grand & solemn sounds" of the organ "mingle with a choir of
human voices."“
Wandering into churches to hear music appears to have been the extent of
Mangum's association with organized religion. For most of his life he professed Christian
10 Quote from, Reminiscences of an unknown author, Willie P. Mangum Family
Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. See also. Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 2:105; 3:127, 143-44, 146-47.
11 Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 1:125-26. See also, ibid.,
2:195; 3:88, 176; 4:232; 5:49, 244, 468.

262
beliefs without settling on a specific denomination. Like a large portion of the southern
population, he did not attend Sunday services but maintained all of the outward trappings
of religiosity. Mangum seemed more concerned with the status associated with a given
church or religious icon than he did with the theological and spiritual aspects of the
Christian faith. For example, he made a special point of purchasing a family bible bound
in Moroccan leather with gilded trim so it could be displayed prominently at Walnut Hall.
The weighty volume told visitors that they were in the home of good Christians of high
respectability and material substance. Mangum did not. however, lack a spiritual side.
His remarks about nature, for example, convey an element of pantheism, and he often
spoke with transcendental appreciation of religious symbols and romantic love. Although,
like many other Whigs, politically prejudiced against the Catholic Church, Mangum
otherwise showed remarkable tolerance in his private utterances and deeds. He served on
the board of trustees of a Baptist institution and considered enrolling one of his daughters
in a Catholic boarding school. Charity Mangum worshipped as an Episcopalian and had
some success convincing her husband to attend an occasional mass. As the most
prestigious denomination in antebellum North Carolina and the Sunday gathering place of
the most influential Whigs, it is almost certain that Mangum attended these services for
social as well as spiritual reasons. On his deathbed he formally converted to the Episcopal
church, safe in the knowledge that he would not have to attend services. For Mangum,
associations like the Loyal Order of Masons and the Odd Fellows, two organizations to

263
which he did belong, offered the same social connections found in church but in fraternal
settings he considered more congenial to his secular temperament.12
If Willie Mangum found spiritual comfort anywhere, it was in the company of his
wife and children. Together he and Charity raised three daughters and one son to
adulthood. Born in 1824, Sallie Alston Mangum would grow up to be the only one to
marry. Her birth warmed the hearts of her mother and father, who, Sallie later claimed,
gave her all the love and every material advantage she ever wanted. Martha Person
Mangum, known affectionately as Pattie, was born four years after her sister Sallie. As
an adult she held her father in reverence and mimicked many of his ideas and prejudices.
A proud daughter of the south, she once advised her brother to develop his mind and body
slowly "like the noble oak" of the American forests, not like the "frenchified tulips"
covering the fields of Monarchical Europe.1’ In his later years, the dying Mangum relied
heavily on Pattie for his basic needs and by all accounts she filled them without complaint.
Upon her death she was laid to rest at the feet of her parents in a final act of utter
devotion. The couple's third child, Catherine Davis Mangum, named for Willie's mother,
died in infancy. Their fourth, Mary Sutherland Mangum was born in 1832. She too
12 Greven, The Protestant Temperament, pp. 298, 324; Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor,
p. xviii; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence
of the Second Party System in Cumberland Countv North Carolina (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1981), pp. 239, 242; Willie P. Mangum to Charity A.
Mangum, 14 July 1846, Willie Person Mangum Papers, North Carolina Department of
Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
1:125-26, 211; 3:299-300; 4:196-97, 389; 5:752, 762; Weeks, "Willie Person Mangum,”
5:254, Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina, pp. 101-102.
13 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:275.

264
tended to her father during his final illness and, along with her sister Pattie, remained at
Walnut Hall until their deaths in 1902. Like her two sisters, Mary read widely, studying
political literature sent her by her father in order that she may discuss it with him upon his
return home. Mangum believed that all his children were capable of comprehending and
speaking frankly about such affairs and encouraged them to digest as much as they could.14
Though he claimed to love all his children equally, Mangum reserved a special
place in his heart for his only son, William Preston Mangum. In 1837. an elated Willie
Mangum heralded the news of his son's birth to his friends in Washington. "I have a fine
boy born this summer." he informed John Crittenden, "He is the finest animal in this
country." Ever the good Whig, Mangum pledged that his son would be the same. "As
to his intellect, I know not, as to his political morals, strictly Whig.'"5 Once he came of
age Billy, or Willy — diminutives used interchangeably by his family — lived up to his
father's tongue-in-cheek promise. In 1850, while Willie Mangum hammered out the
details of the compromise measure being debated by congress, his thirteen-year-old son
lobbied in Orange County to win friends for the bill. One neighborhood girl merited
special attention. The infatuated teenager believed that if he won her affection she would
14 Ariana Holliday Mangum, "A Short History of the Mangum Family," North
Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, pp. 8-10;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:230-31, 330, 760, 757; Martha Person
Mangum, Diary, 13 July 1853, 23 October 1853, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Sallie Mangum to Charity A. Mangum, 4
January 1860, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
15 Willie Mangum to John Crittenden, 1837, miscellaneous item, University of
Kentucky Libraries, Division of Special Collections and Archives, University of Kentucky,
Lexington, Kentucky.

265
come around to his point of view. By the time he entered the University of North
Carolina, William had shown himself to be a loyal southerner. In 1856, he berated his
chemistry professor for supporting Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont.
Finally, in 1861, he enlisted as an officer in the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, sent off
by his father to fight for the cause of southern liberty.16
Young William took his name from his father's best friend. Senator William
Campbell Preston of South Carolina. "If he shall be as full of talent, honor. & all the
finer qualities of our nature as the gentleman whose name he bears," Mangum wrote of
his newborn son in 1837, "he will be all that 1 desire."1" Preston was deeply touched by
the tribute. Looking back on their lives and long friendship more than twenty years later,
he recalled how he had admired Mangum from their first meeting and came to love the
North Carolinian as a brother. A falling out between Preston and John Calhoun ended
Preston's political career in 1842. Still, the two Carolinians stayed in contact with one
another and remained close friends for both their lives.18
Willie Mangum proved to be an attentive parent. A tough taskmaster, he pushed
all his children to excel in academics. From an early age he insisted that they devote much
16Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:182-83, 327-28, 388-89.
17Willie Mangum to John Crittenden, 1837, miscellaneous item, University of
Kentucky Libraries, Division of Special Collections and Archives, University of Kentucky,
Lexington, Kentucky.
18Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:508; 5:347; Ernest M. Lander, Jr.,
"The Calhoun-Preston Feud, 1836-1842," The South Carolina Historical Magazine 59
(1958):24, 37.

266
of their time to their studies. He frequently recommended reading material and sent books
home. One package included a French dictionary, several French gammer books, and a
copy of Homer's Iliad. Beyond the genteel arts expected of all elite young women in the
South — music, dancing, conversation, and deportment — Mangum expected his daughters
to master such "manly" subjects as botany, philosophy, chemistry, history, and "heathen
mythology."19 After receiving a sloppy letter from Sallie, Mangum warned that bad
spelling and illegible handwriting "in a young lady ... is as much observed as a sore on
a pretty face."20 Of all his children, Sallie seemed least capable of meeting her father's
high standards. Martha, however, proved especially able, and so did her brother, who
received high marks from all his instructors, including his dancing master. Beyond routine
home instruction, Mangum insisted that his children attend local academies, to many of
which he had given financial support or helped to found.21
Mangum's concern for his offspring extended well beyond their intellectual
development. A doting father, he was unafraid to show affection and passionately devoted
to their well-being. In nearly every letter that Mangum wrote to his wife after the birth
19 Quote from. Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:88. See also, ibid.,
1:424; 2:1; 3:270; 4:257, 345, 403-404; 5:49; Greven, The Protestant Temperament, p.
290; Jane Turner Censer, North Carolina Planters and Their Children. 1800-1860 (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984) p. 42.
2,1 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:421.
21 Ibid., 1:486, 506-507; 2:521, 468-69; 3:45, 364; 4:403-404; 5:90, 199, 285, 288,
377, 466-68, 479, 486; Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political and Intellectual
Leadership in North Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin, Publisher, 1961),
p. 125.

267
of their first child, he included a request that she remember him to them and give each a
kiss. He taught Sallie to master a horse and urged her to take walks to maintain her good
health. When news that one had taken ill reached him in Washington, a worried Mangum
would immediately write back to suggest remedies. Instructing his son in the sporting
ways of the country squire became something of a game for Mangum, who gave William
a toy gun so that he could learn to hunt and handed down to him an interest in ornithology.
So too did he give his son a lesson in fashion. When ten-year-old William stayed with his
father in Washington the two promenaded through the streets of the capital in matching
attire. Sentimental, obliging, and thoughtful, Mangum adored his children, and they in
turn expressed deep sentimental attachment for him.”
For a brief period in the late 1830s William Cain, Jr., Mangum's nephew, lived
at Walnut Hall. The boy had had personal difficulties with his father who asked that
Mangum try his hand at raising him. The manner in which Mangum handled his feckless
charge says a great deal about his code of conduct. The younger Cain's sexual liaisons
with slaves and free African-American prostitutes made his father furious. When the
senior Cain left him at Walnut Hall, Mangum promised to do his best to reform the
incorrigible youngster and channel William's energy into his studies. When the boy
refused to obey, the senator sent a hasty note to his father, asking that he take his son
back. Soon, however, Mangum reconsidered. In June 1839, six months after the episode
:: Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:89, 365-66; 4:252, 347; 5:86, 88, 365,
368, 468; Greven, The Protestant Temperament, pp. 269-70; Censer, North Carolina
Planters and Their Children, pp. xv-xvi, 39, 60-61; Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor, p.
272.

268
began, Mangum believed William to be sufficiently redeemed and recommended him to
David L. Swain, President of the University of North Carolina President. For Mangum,
the key to moral rehabilitation was education. He would not tolerate indolence and
profligacy at Walnut Hall and laid a firm hand on the boy to put a stop to such behavior.
Once William had atoned for his youthful indiscretions, Mangum showed compassion. He
forgave him and used his influence with Swain to help him get into college, something the
boy's own father refused to do.23
For planters in the antebellum South, the notion of family extended beyond blood
relations to include the slaves who lived and worked on the plantation. Mangum typified
the paternalistic planter. He looked upon his human chattel as needy children, blessed
with many virtues but burdened with serious vices. Mangum tended to the sick and
mourned the dead and even named one slave for himself. Ironically, Willie the slave
proved so "troublesome" that Mangum sold him, something he was reluctant to do.
Instead, during hard times, Mangum hired out his slaves, always insisting that the lessee
treat them humanely and often asking those slaves involved their opinions of likely
employers. Still, Mangum harbored racist attitudes common to his generation. "My black
family," he wrote late in life, "has been comparatively useless - the result no doubt of their
profligacy & vices."24 He regarded slave labor as "too careless" for complex
23 William Cain, Sr. to William Cain, Jr., 2 September and 3 October 1838. Willie P.
Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Willie P. Mangum to
David L. Swain, 15 June 1839, David Lowry Swain Papers, North Carolina Department
of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.
24 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:309.

269
manufacturing tasks and imagined theirs to be a happy, carefree life. Northern wage
earners, he once said, toiled in dank factories amid crowded cities while slaves and masters
worked side by side in the sunny fields of the south. By all accounts, Mangum sincerely
believed this to be true.25
The size of Mangum's "black family" varied from one census to the next, births
and deaths, and not sales having the greatest impact on population. From 1830 and 1860,
the number of slaves residing on the Walnut Hall plantation fluctuated from twelve to
twenty. Discrepancies between the amount listed by census takers and entries in the
Mangum family bible suggest that either Willie or Charity or both withheld some names
from the census recorders. Notations made in the inside cover of the family bible indicate
that the Mangums owned more slaves than the government was led to believe. Whatever
the exact number, Mangum's slaves clustered into three houses located well out of sight
of the main dwelling. Uncle Anderson, Mangum's driver, lived in his own house. At
least two servants, Orange and Polly, were permitted to live as a married couple and raise
a large family of their own. Minerva, the cook, lived on the plantation with her daughter
Lucy and her grandson June. Such evidence suggests a degree of stability in the slave
community at Walnut Hall.26
25 Eugene D. Genovese, Roll. Jordan. Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York:
Random House, 1972), pp. 1-7; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:79-80;
3:262, 365; 4:17, 330-31; 5:169-70, 177, 234-35, 261-62, 284-85, 309, 557-58. 754.
26 Federal Records, United States Bureau of the Census, Free Population, 1830-1860;
Federal Records, United States Bureau of the Census, Slave Population, 1850-1860.
Michael Hill, "Historical Report: The Mangum Family Cemetery, Durham County, North
Carolina," North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North

270
Among the servants at Walnut Hall was a person referred to by family members
as Miss Polly. A woman of European descent. Miss Polly lived with the Mangum family
from the time of Willie's boyhood until after his death. Another servant, Louis
Thompson, whose race is unknown, traveled with Mangum to Washington in the late
1840s and worked as his valet. Thompson and Mangum shared a cordial relationship
indicative of the senator's egalitarian spirit. Mangum had social contact with free blacks.
In 1843, Mangum helped Waller Freeman, a free African-American, purchase his family
out of bondage. John Chavis, Mangum’s former tutor and a person of color, visited
Walnut Hall from time to time to talk with Mangum about politics. Pattie Mangum once
chanced upon a group of curious slaves peering through the parlor window to see what
Chavis and Mangum were doing. When she came within earshot, one slave asked her,
"what is that nigger doing in the parlor talking to Judge Mangum?"27 Her father
apparently did not share their belief that the educator was out of place and invited him
back often. Mangum consulted Chavis about his children's education and, in the late
1830s, asked him to act as their live-in tutor.28
The Judge got along well with his neighbors on Red Mountain. He enjoyed a full
slate of social affairs with the local gentry during his stays at Walnut Hall and entertained
Carolina; Mangum Family Bible, Willie Person Mangum Papers, Special Collections.
Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Mangum Family Bible, Willie P.
Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 5:755.
27 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 5:753.
28 Ibid., 2:104; 3:435-36; 4:37; 5:6, 104, 330, 753, 760.

271
regularly. With his poorer neighbors he exhibited the noblesse oblige expected of a man
of his high rank. He lent slaves to those in need of an extra hand and once sold land to
a family of sharecroppers for a token sum, an act of generosity he could ill afford. His
tastes in stylish clothing and fine wines had added to his longstanding financial
embarrassment. Like most members of the southern ruling class, Mangum lived well
beyond his means. Even after settling with his creditors in the late 1820s and early 1830s,
he continued to run up debts and always seemed to be scrambling for cash. Friends and
relatives lent him small sums, but his larger obligations demanded extreme measures. By
1850, Mangum was so cash poor that he contemplated selling his most valued slave and,
following the advice of his brother Priestly, put one of his prized thoroughbreds on the
block. Thanks to the able management of Priestly, Charity, his daughters Martha and
Mary, and himself, Mangum did not have to parcel off his plantation.29
Walnut Hall plantation covered approximately 1,600 acres of land. Only half the
acreage was cultivated. Set on middling quality soil, Mangum's farm produced an
abundance of staple crops and more than enough food to sustain its residents. Tobacco,
corn, oat, and wheat fields, common sights in Orange County, made up the patchwork
landscape. Factors regularly carted these cash crops to the marketplace in Petersburg,
29 Ibid., 2:339; 3:29-30; 4:312, 432-33; 5:174, 177, 754; Willie P. Mangum. Expense
Account, 21 December 1841 to 31 August 1842, Willie Person Mangum Papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Gales & Seaton. General
Ledger no. 2, 1825-1854, Joseph Gales Papers, Special Collections, Duke University
Library, Durham, North Carolina: Willie P. Mangum to Francis Asbury Dickens, October
1849, Francis Asbury Dickens Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

272
Virginia, their wagons also laded with beef, pork and wool. Hogs, sheep, and cattle,
grazed on the unimproved acreage awaiting slaughter, shearing, or milking. Horses shared
the pastures. Mangum prided himself on being a good farmer and provided his family
with a varied and nutritious diet. Pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplants, beets,
melons, all thrived in the vegetable gardens around Walnut Hall. Mangum. his family,
and his slaves regularly feasted on a diet of bacon, beef, salt pork, and mutton. Hunger
and privation appear to have been unknown to the residents of Walnut Hall."
Fruit and ornamental trees beautified the grounds around the main house. An apple
orchard west of the four and three-quarter acre fence-enclosed lawn and two pear trees
provided fruit and shade. Rose bushes and a rose arbor sat between a large smoke house
and the carriage barn. A row of English boxwoods lined the walkway leading to the main
house and several tall cedars stood across the road passing in front of the plantation. A
curved driveway formed a semicircle in front of the main house. With two gated
entrances, one to the east and the other to the west of the house, it provided access to the
road connecting Oxford and Hillsborough. Several buildings, including a kitchen, an ice
house, an office, and a barn, along with the other aforementioned structures, served the
30 Federal Records, United States Bureau of the Census, Agricultural Schedule, 1850
and 1860; Robert C. Kenzer, Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community:
Orange County. North Carolina. 1849-1881 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee
Press, 1987), pp. 35-37; Hillsborough Recorder. 6 February 1856; Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum. 3:483; 4:232, 313, 451; 5:49, 113, 309, 311. 336-37; Charity A.
Mangum to Willie P. Mangum, 9 February 1844, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; United States Congress, The Congressional
Globe. 31st Cong., 1st sess., p. 567; Martha Person Mangum, Diary, 22 October 1859,
Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

273
residents of the plantation. Two towering walnut trees standing just to the rear of the main
house gave the plantation its name.31
The centerpiece of the Mangum plantation was the two-story, Greek revival manor.
Walnut Hall. Fashioned after the palatial home of Duncan Cameron, Mangum's patron
and one of the wealthiest men in North Carolina, the house was constructed in two phases.
The rear ell was built around the year 1800 and housed the family until 1845, when a
second, more commodious wing was completed. A small overhang supported by four
white columns protected the front door of the finished house. An ornately crafted double
doorway led visitors into a main hall that passed directly to the rear of the house. A large
back porch looked on the two walnut trees and, in the distance, the rose garden. Tall
chimneys rose on either side of the two-story front ell while a third cut through the center
of the single-story rear ell. Flanking the front hall to the east and west were two spacious
parlors, each warmed by its own fireplace. A staircase in the hall led up to family
sleeping quarters on the second story. The rear wall of the east parlor opened to a wide
passageway with exterior doors to the left and right and a door along the rear wall leading
into the well-appointed dining room. A long banquet table and ample sideboard allowed
Mangum to host modest dinner parties. Indeed, elegant furniture, much of it made from
mahogany, curios, and fine brass work graced every room. Paintings hung throughout the
house and outer office. In the back, beyond the dining area, was an interior kitchen where
31 See diagram of estate drawn by Elizabeth T. Spencer in, Willie Person Mangum
Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

274
servants made final preparations on meals cooked in another kitchen located a few yards
behind the main house.32
Walnut Hall, like estates throughout the old South, served as testament to the
conspicuous consumption of the ruling class. Mangum's clothing, his comportment, and
his stately bearing all marked him as a true southern aristocrat. Like most members of his
class, Mangum enjoyed the leisurely pace of plantation life. He took pleasure in his
books, his horses, and most of all, in his family. Unfortunately, Mangum also participated
in the southern tradition of amassing debts he found hard to pay. For all his financial
problems, the Judge seemed at peace whenever he returned to Walnut Hall. A sanctuary,
his home surely was a port in the storm of public life. Still, he could not stay away from
politics for long. His temperament would not allow it; nor would his friends.
Crittenden's beckoning to roam old battlefields and retell old stories touched a nerve with
Mangum. The war had not ended. It would not end until Mangum was vindicated.
A rough sketch of the floor plan of Walnut Hall can be found in, Shanks, The Papers
of Willie P. Mangum. 3:448-49. Two photographs of the house, which burned to the
ground in the early 1830s, are in, ibid., 3:400-401. Other photographs of Mangum's
furniture, portraits, and other smaller items can be found in all five volumes of the
published Mangum papers.

CHAPTER 9
VINDICATION
Willie Mangum found peace at Walnut Hall but still felt the sting of an involuntary
return. Almost from the day he resigned his seat in the senate his friends had been
working to send him back to Washington. They plotted to elect him to lesser offices or
sought appointive posts, but nothing of consequence developed. Mangum might not have
accepted an inferior position if given the opportunity. Besides, his sense of honor
demanded that he be vindicated by triumphant reelection at the hands of the same body that
had turned him out. If this could be done while humiliating his enemies, all the better.
Reinstating Mangum to the United States Senate meant that one of the two current
senators, both Democrats, had to be displaced. That suited the Whigs, even those who
thought little of Mangum and his desire for revenge.
Throughout 1837, Mangum received entreaties from some of his party’s leading
figures prodding him to return to office. With a congressional election approaching, Duff
Green and John Calhoun of South Carolina, and John Crittenden of Kentucky began
pressing their old friend to run. "The House is the field of action," Calhoun wrote
Mangum in February 1837, "and we greatly lack experienced and able men there. You
275

276
must offer from your district. Let nothing dissuade you.'" Duff Green also tried to coax
Mangum. On March 6, 1837, combining flattery and appeals to his regional pride, he
urged Mangum to enter the contest. "You owe it to your country to come forward,"
Green begged, "[with] you in the House & Calhoun in the Senate the South may yet be
saved."2 During the summer Green again contacted Mangum, this time raising the
possibility that, if victorious, he could be elected Speaker of the House/
Charles P. Green, William A. Graham, Charles L. Hinton, and some of Mangum's
other allies in North Carolina made similar appeals, but without invoking the grand
promises of their South Carolinian ally. Privately, Hinton and Weston R. Gales, both of
whom were publicly committed to the former senator, wondered if he had made too many
enemies during the instructions episode to win the open seat.4 For reasons known only to
himself, Mangum would not run. In June 1837, the Orange County Whigs, unaware that
Mangum had decided to refuse the nomination, met in Hillsborough to name him their
candidate. One week later, Mangum announced, through local newspaper editor Dennis
1 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 2:492.
2 Ibid., 2:493.
3 Ibid., 2:505.
4 Ibid., 2:493; J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton and Henry M. Wagstaff, eds., The Papers
of William Alexander Graham. 8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and
History, 1957-1992), 1:497, 501-502.

277
Heartt, that he was honored by the tribute, but had to decline it. Nothing, Heartt wrote,
could be said or done to make him change his mind.5
When word of Mangum's decision reached Washington, his old friends wrote to
express their displeasure. "You must not be idle," John Crittenden advised Mangum,
adding that he was in a good position to take charge of the North Carolina delegation in
the lower house.6 William Preston was more caustic. "You have no right to bury in
obscurity the high endowments with which God has blessed you," adding sarcastically that
he should certainly be doing more than growing "corn & potatoes."7 Such flattering failed
to produce the desired effect. Mangum was enjoying the peace and seclusion of Walnut
Hall and the revival of his law practice. As for politics, he had only unpleasant memories
of life in Washington,he claimed, and, as John Crittenden put it, would forget "all such
profane things as politics & politicians."8 Accepting a job as County Road Overseer,
which he assumed in August 1837, seemed an easy way to fulfill his civic duty closer to
home. Crittenden probably knew that his friend's contentment would be short lived. For
all his complaining, Mangum thrived in the arena of national politics. With a hostile
administration in the White House and plenty of issues to excite and inflame him, Mangum
soon began behaving like his old self.9
5 Hillsborough Recorder. 23, 30 June 1837.
6 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:512.
7 Ibid., 2:510.
8 Ibid., 2:511.
Ibid., 2:506.
9

278
Among the first concerns confronting the nation was a sagging economy. Early
in 1837, a sudden drop in stock and commodity prices triggered a depression. The
resulting uncertainty as well as the remedies proposed by the two major political parties
cemented alliances that had been taking form since the early part of the decade. Whigs
blamed their opponents, particularly Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Burén,
for precipitating the crisis. As the party in power, the Democrats had difficulty deflecting
such criticism as Whigs made political capital out of voter discontent. After the panic of
1837, the two parties had finished the process of self definition. Democrats painted
themselves as advocates of a negative liberal state, proponents of minimalist government.
Whigs championed the opposite; an activist agenda that included the bank, a protective
tariff, and internal improvement projects. Their ideal was a positive liberal state.10
To restore prosperity and public confidence, Martin Van Burén proposed
establishing federal depositories independent of state banks to hold federal revenue. The
subtreasury, as it was commonly known, divorced the federal government from the
10 John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and "Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the
United States. 1837-1846 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 81-82;
Thomas Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861 (Athens:
The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p.83; Burton W. Folsom, 11, "Party Formation
& Development in Jacksonian America: The Old South," Journal of American Studies 7
(1973):222, 228-29; William R. Brock, Parties & Political Conscience: American
Dilemmas. 1840-1850 (Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press, 1979), p. 13; Marc W. Kruman,
Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1983), pp. 21, 61, 63; Harry L. Watson, Jacksonian Politics and
Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System in Cumberland County
North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), p. 299; Richard
L. McCormick, The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of
Jackson to the Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 165.

279
national banking system and represented an important step in the direction of a negative
liberal state. From September 5, 1837, the day Van Burén made public his plan, until July
4, 1840, the day he signed it into law, the Subtreasury Bill consumed Washington. In
North Carolina and throughout the nation it grabbed the attention of public officials and
ordinary citizens alike. In the South, states righters divided over the measure, something
Van Burén had hoped for from the beginning. Fiscal conservatism led many of them into
the arms of the administration. For Willie Mangum and many others like him, however,
party loyalty proved far stronger than flexible economic principles.11
North Carolina Whigs attacked the subtreasury with familiar accusations of
presidential tyranny. With the executive branch controlling its own depository, they
argued, the likelihood of corruption increased. John Calhoun's proviso requiring banks
to pay all federal debts in specie, which he tacked to the bill in October 1837, only added
to their anguish. They argued that it would undermine the economy by deflating bank
notes and forcing a contraction of credit, hurting small landowners and others in need of
inexpensive loans.i: On October 4, 1837, the senate agreed to recommend the bill to the
house. Six days later Mangum wrote Duff Green denouncing the subtreasury as
11 David J. Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period and the
Development of Party Loyalty in Congress, 1830-1840," Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society 62 (1972):37, 40, 46; Arthur C. Cole, The Whig Party in the South
(Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1913), pp. 45, 50-51.
12 Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 84; William J. Cooper, Jr., The South
and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1978), p. 101.

280
"impracticable & deeply mischievous.1'13 He vowed to another that neither he nor his
infant son would ever support the subtreasury scheme.14
In his letter to Green, Mangum captured the true meaning of the subtreasury
debate. "I feel that friends have to part," he wrote.15 Old alliances, he told Green, had
become obsolete and an important transition was now underway. In North Carolina, the
supporters of John Calhoun, who had sided with the administration on the Subtreasury
Bill, abandoned the Whigs and went over to the Democrats. Instead of destroying the
party, the fissure left the Whigs stronger. Calhoun's defection meant the departure of the
more extreme states rights elements of the party. His rejection of Whig orthodoxy
rendered him unacceptable to centrist stalwarts like Mangum, who saw Calhoun's move
as inspired by equal parts of opportunism and idealism. Senator William Preston of South
Carolina thought it was Calhoun's ambition that led him to drift from his Whiggish
moorings. Preston informed Mangum that Calhoun believed the Democrats to be "without
a head" under Van Burén and that he, Calhoun, "could mount upon the vacant shoulders"
of the Democratic party.16 Mangum agreed, blasting Calhoun for claiming to be the final
arbiter of "the states right creed." He wrote that Calhoun had split the south to the benefit
13 Willie P. Mangum to Duff Green, 10 October 1837, The Duff Green Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
14 Willie Mangum to John Crittenden, 1837, miscellaneous item, University of
Kentucky Libraries, Division of Special Collections and Archives, University of Kentucky,
Lexington, Kentucky.
15 Willie P. Mangum to Duff Green, 10 October 1837, The Duff Green Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
16Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:509.

281
of Van Burén.17 He miscalculated. The Whigs in North Carolina had been cleansed of
their most divisive elements. From then on, they would speak with one voice on nearly
all of the major policy questions of the day.18
Free of Calhoun's influence, states rights Whigs reappointed Henry Clay their
national leader. Having toned down his political and economic nationalism. Clay satisfied
southern Whigs who had, until recently, regarded him with him deep hostility and
suspicion. The new states rights version of Clay, a defender of slavery, a low tariff, and
distribution, was the anointed hero of Mangum and the North Carolina Whigs. As early
as October 1837, Mangum’s associates across the south were inducing him to openly back
Clay for the presidency. William Preston, for one, quietly drummed up support for Clay
in Calhoun's backyard. In November, Hamilton Jones, editor of the Salisbury-based
Carolina Watchman, contacted Mangum to coordinate strategies for the 1840 election. He
also urged Mangum to make public his privately held view that, of the Whigs, Clay stood
the best chance of toppling Van Burén.19
17Willie P. Mangum to Duff Green, 10 October 1837, The Duff Green Papers,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
18 Russo, "The Major Political Issues of the Jacksonian Period," pp. 18, 42; Ashworth,
"Agrarians" and "Aristocrats", p. 231.
19 Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, pp. 121-24; Ashworth, "Agrarians"
and "Aristocrats", p. 255; Cole, The Whig Party in the South, pp. 53-54; Ernest M.
Lander, Jr., "The Calhoun-Preston Feud, 1836-1842," The South Carolina Historical
Magazine 59 (1958):29, 32-33; Herbert Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina
(Chapel Hill: Colonial Press, 1968), p. 97; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
2:510, 513.

282
Clay and Mangum had been friends for many years, but their politics often kept
them at odds. By 1837, their differences had passed, and the two corresponded as friends
and allies. Clay saw Mangum's downfall in 1836 as compromising his own effectiveness
in the senate and hoped he would mount a comeback without delay. Early in 1837. he
asked Francis T. Brooke, "what good can I do, what mischief avert, by remaining" now
that Mangum and a few of his other confederates were no longer there to help him.20 The
Kentuckian surely underestimated his own abilities. With Calhoun out of the running and
the Democrats trying to put the best face on a troubled economy. Clay and the Whigs were
in a good position to win the next election. Clay knew this and counted upon state leaders
like Mangum to press their advantage. Accordingly, Mangum worked tirelessly to
coordinate Whig organizations within his state and beyond its borders.
On February 19, 1838, Henry Clay denounced the subtreasury in a four and one-
half hour speech to the senate.21 Biting references to Andrew Jackson and Martin Van
Burén pleased Mangum, who appreciated "its practical & useful tone." He found Clay's
allusions to Calhoun, however, "a little too spicy." "You ought to remember," Mangum
wrote Clay on March 26, 1838, "that the truth often hurts more than the worst calumny."
In his letter, Mangum outlined his plans for the upcoming presidential election. Once
pessimistic about his party's chances, he now believed that "the administration may pretty
20 James F. Hopkins, Mary W. M. Hargreaves, Robert Seager, II, and Melba Porter
Hay, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay. 9 vols. (Lexington: The University of Kentucky
Press, 1959-1988), 9:26-27.
21 Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton
& Company, 1991), pp. 512-13.

283
certainly be displaced & [thought he could) throw the vote of this state against Mr. Van
Burén." He based his opinion on "an extensive correspondence with our friends in this
state" and concluded that "as fine or a finer spirit pervades the ranks of the Whigs than
ever I knew.” Mangum claimed that this enthusiasm reached beyond party officials and
newspaper editors to "the bone & sinew of our population -- the substantial country
gentlemen & farmers [and] . . . that portion of our population that think & read."22
Mangum went on to warn Clay that he needed to be careful not to appear too
partisan. The best way to do this, he advised, was to downplay the nominating
convention, which was very unpopular in North Carolina. Mangum appreciated the irony
that he was partly responsible, through his antiparty rhetoric, for having rendered "that
mode of nomination" unacceptable to a large portion of his constituency. Still, he knew
that the Whigs had to launch a coordinated attack against the administration and a unified
convention was a good first step toward that end. Mangum promised that, if needed, his
state would send a pro-Clay delegation to the convention. He also guaranteed the backing
of the local Whig press. Both assurances were fulfilled, showing that even outside the
formal corridors of power Mangum wielded considerable influence with upper echelon
Whigs. His pull with voters proved a different matter entirely.23
After spending a good part of 1837 turning down offers to run for office, Mangum
decided early in 1838 that the time was right. In March he notified Clay that he was
22 Willie P. Mangum to Henry Clay, 26 March 1838, Clay Mss., Manuscripts
Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington. Indiana.
23
Ibid.

284
seeking a seat in the North Carolina House of Commons. He believed his chances were
good, that the Whigs in Orange County could capture all four of the available seats. Why
he believed this to be a propitious time, why he chose to seek local, rather than national
office, is unclear.24 James Graham, for one, was at a loss to explain Mangum's motives
and guessed that he would lose. "Mangum ought to go out freely, I presume his
acquaintance among the people is nearly worn out," Graham wrote his brother William in
April.25 Mangum's silence since leaving the senate cost him at least one vote, perhaps
many more. James Augustus mistakenly thought the candidate supported the Subtreasury
Bill, doubtless the result of Mangum's failure to define clearly his position.26 None of the
letters in his voluminous collection make mention of this campaign. Whether this means
the pertinent documents have been lost or he never wrote any remains unknown. If he
neglected his correspondence during the spring and summer of 1838, as some of his
friends maintained, then he made a critical lapse of judgment in what until then had been
a well-managed political career.27
In an incredibly close election, Willie Mangum lost his bid for a seat in the House
of Commons. With four vacancies, only the top four vote-getters earned spots in the
lower chamber. Mangum finished fifth, just six votes shy of fourth place. The voters of
Orange elected three Democrats and one Whig instead. Gracious in defeat, Mangum
24 Hopkins, et al. The Papers of Henry Clay. 9:166-67.
25 Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:7.
26 Ibid., 2:12.
27 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:511.

285
refused to call for a recount, even after investigators had turned up discrepancies in the
official tally. The local Whig press was less magnanimous. Mangum, they insisted, had
been "legally elected," only to be denied his rightful place in the assembly by "a
misapprehension of the law" governing voter registration in Chapel Hill and a questionable
count. Twisting a knife in an old wound, the Democratic press announced scornfully that
"Willie Mangum has been instructed by his constituents to stay home."2"
Mangum's misfortune was not shared by his party. The off-year election of 1838
proved a watershed for North Carolina Whiggery. Voters reelected Whig Governor
Edward B. Dudley by a resounding 64 percent of the popular vote and placed solid Whig
majorities in both chambers of the legislature. With their superior organization and their
adversaries in disarray, a Whig triumph was all but certain. Running a seamless
campaign, they stressed their opposition to the Independent Treasury and blamed
administration policies for the recent panic. Conversely, the Democrats were listless,
following one miscue with another. Their greatest blunder was the nomination of John
Branch, one of the original anti-Van Burén men in North Carolina, as their gubernatorial
candidate. Made by a party meeting in Raleigh held one month before the August
election, the selection of Branch left local Democrats bickering among themselves while
the Whigs coasted to victory. In the end. the Whigs controlled both houses of the General
28 All quotes, Raleigh Register. 10 September 1838; See also, ibid., 9, 27 August
1838.

286
Assembly and the governorship, the first time in North Carolina history one party so
dominated state politics.
Exclusion from Commons did not prevent Mangum from exacting his revenge on
the Democrats; instead, the seasoned leader imposed his will on a pliant legislature. In
December 1838, as lawmakers descended on Raleigh to start the session, Mangum and
Kenneth Rayner of Hertford met at a rooming house in the capital. For two weeks they
worked on resolutions that would bear the name of the Commoner. Officials in Raleigh
knew that equal credit was due Mangum. The document amounted to a statement of the
Whig agenda and a denunciation of Democratic programs. It further requested the state's
two Senators, Robert Strange and Bedford Brown, both Democrats, to "represent the will
of the majority of the people of this state by carrying out the foregoing resolutions."
When Strange and Brown demanded to know if these were formal instructions, Whigs
responded opaquely, careful not to use that word. Having been stung once by the
doctrine, they now played semantical games to cover blatant inconsistencies. In truth, the
Whigs were settling an old score with their rivals — these were instructions, this was a
vendetta.30
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, pp. 81; Richard P. McCormick, The
Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (Chapel Hill: The
University of North Carolina Press, 1966), p. 207; Cole, The Whig Party in the South,
pp. 52.
30 Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 64, 105-107; William S. Hoffman,
"Willie P. Mangum and the Whig Revival of the Doctrine of Instructions," The Journal
of Southern History 22 (1956):354; Hillsborough Recorder. 13 December 1838.

287
On December 9, 1838, Mangum revealed to Thomas Bennehan the true nature of
his mission to Raleigh. "My object was to beat up the quarters of our derelict Senators,"
he wrote brashly. The former senator did not hide his intentions, nor did he gloss over
the ultimate goal of the resolutions. "I hope, I believe, the senators will be driven out."
"As to their successors," Mangum continued, "it would be contemptible affectation to say
that I do not desire a certificate from the state, after suffering what 1 have." No longer
willing to play the martyr, Mangum had taken it upon himself to destroy the Democrats.
Once he had driven them from office, Mangum boasted, he would return to the Senate.
Indirect attacks and veiled partisanship had shown mixed results. By December 1838, he
had abandoned such pretensions, vindictively predicting passage for his and Rayner’s
handiwork.31 Following a month-long debate, the resolutions passed unamended. Voting
in both chambers closely conformed to party lines.33
Without explicit instructions. Brown and Strange could, and did. disregard the
resolutions. Unmoved by their defiance, Whigs refused to let up on the Democrats. With
a numerical advantage in the General Assembly, they looked ahead to a fruitful session.
They also planned to push their agenda outside the state house. On December 10, 1838,
two hundred delegates from forty counties met in Raleigh to attend an internal
improvements convention. Again, the Democrats stymied the Whig's chances to make
political capital on what was clearly a Whig issue. They won top posts at the conference
31 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:534-35.
33 Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p. 64.

288
and co-sponsored the most generous proposition to come out of the proceedings.
Mangum's decision not to attend the conference probably hurt his party. Had he used his
influence and newly-realized Machiavellianism to prevent Democrats from capturing
leadership positions, the Whigs may have been able to take more credit for the popular
meeting. Ultimately, Whigs regarded the outcome with mixed emotions. As champions
of state-funded internal improvements, they favored recommendations like railroad
construction, turnpike McAdamization, and the dredging of rivers and harbors. However,
they had to share the glory with their rivals.33
Mangum’s collaborative effort with Kenneth Rayner was uncharacteristically heavy-
handed. Typically, he acted more subtly and with greater finesse. Writing letters,
bending ears at dinner parties, or having cocktails with friends proved better suited to his
personality. After 1838 he resumed these old habits to advance Henry Clay's presidential
candidacy. Regular updates from Washington told him that Martin Van Burén looked
vulnerable. More good news came from Raleigh when Rayner reported that their scheme
to unseat Brown and Strange was going as planned and that many Whigs looked to
Mangum as a likely replacement in the event of a resignation. Rayner added that Mangum
needed to return to Raleigh and put pressure on Whigs who were still uneasy about running
Clay in North Carolina. All indications are that Mangum stayed at Walnut Hall. Concern
for his family and law practice superseded all else. An outbreak of scarlet fever late in
” Raleigh Register. 31 December 1838; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics,
p. 124; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 54, 65; Watson, Jacksonian Politics
and Community Conflict, pp. 243, 247.

289
1839 nearly claimed the life of his wife Charity. Lesser aches and pains, including a
broken ankle, kept Mangum in bed for several weeks. Sitting upright against his
headboard, his foot resting on a pillow, Mangum wrote letters to national leaders to advise
about politics and complain about discomfort. He devoted himself to local causes as well.
Raising money so Dennis Heartt could modernize his operations in Hillsborough was one
way Mangum could thank his "little Irishman” for more than a decade of loyal service,
while simultaneously building a more efficient Whig press.34
By the middle of 1839 Mangum was again playing "the presidential game." The
quadrennial ritual consumed him as never before, in part because, for the first time, he felt
victory in his grasp and knew he had the power and influence to make it happen. Also,
for the first time, influential Whigs from across the country were talking about putting his
name on a national ticket. As always, Mangum began the game early and in earnest.
Corresponding with power brokers and their underlings, newspaper editors and their
readers, he drummed up support for Henry Clay in all quarters. Like-minded men
answered his letters with requests for personal appearances. Before the election was over,
Mangum would receive solicitations from as close as Raleigh and as far away as
Montgomery, Alabama. Whigs from modest cities like Richmond and tiny hamlets like
Clarksville, Tennessee tried to enlist the aid of the skilled and famous orator.35
34 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 2:534, 536-37; 3:1, 2, 4-5, 15, 18, 24.
35 Ibid., 3:31-36, 38, 40-44, 50-56, 59, 66-69.

290
As the Whigs prepared for their convention in Raleigh, state party leaders looked
to Mangum for advice. On October 11, 1839, William A. Graham urged him to assume
a leading role at the meeting slated to take place the following month. "You will be
expected to appear at the head of the committee who shall digest the course of proceedings
to be adopted," Graham wrote. The convention, he added, would appoint two delegates
to the national convention to be held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that December. "Would
it suit you to be one of these?" he asked. Acknowledging Mangum’s popularity, Graham
believed Mangum would lend integrity and name recognition to the proceedings. He also
thought Mangum would bring cunning. Reminding him of his recent collaboration with
Rayner, Graham asked that he condense their resolutions into pamphlet form and broadcast
them throughout the state. "It would afford essential aid in keeping the minds of the
people intent on the abuses of the administration," Graham wrote, fully aware that they
were as much political manifestoes as legislative acts.'6
Despite such pleas, Mangum stayed home. Even without their best-known figure
in attendance, the first ever North Carolina Whig convention went smoothly. After the
delegates elected John Owen chairman they nominated John Morehead for governor. They
chose Owen and James Mebane to represent them in Harrisburg and, as expected, endorsed
Henry Clay for the presidency. By now, the Whig machine operated with smooth
efficiency. With the state convention the Whigs had shed their antipartisan skin. The
mass meetings, barbecues, militia musters, public dinners arranged by the party that year
36
Ibid., 3:19.

291
represented the culmination of a process that began early that decade. By 1839 and 1840,
the Whigs had come of age, thanks to the efforts of Willie Mangum. his friends, and his
enemies.'
Having set aside their traditional aversion to conventions, James Mebane, John
Owen, and ten other North Carolina Whigs set out for Harrisburg. On December 4, 1839,
they joined delegates from twenty-two other states at a Lutheran Church to begin the first
national Whig convention. The harmony witnessed in Raleigh could not be found there.
Three men, each backed by local king makers and state conventions, had dreams of
capturing the presidential nomination. Henry Clay appeared to be the early favorite,
having received endorsements from several state conventions in the south and southwest.
Still, powerful forces blocked his path. Thurlow Weed, a New York editor and self-
proclaimed "new-style Whig," thought little of the Kentuckian's chances. He believed the
party needed a fresh face, someone without a past that could be used against them.
General Winfield Scott, Weed thought, was such a man. Another former military figure
with strong support in Harrisburg was William Henry Harrison of Ohio, an aging general
whose legendary battlefield triumphs were a distant memory. Like Scott he was not
weighted down by potentially damaging political baggage. With the three candidates in
Raleigh Register. 16 November 1839; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics,
pp. 91, 95; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 38-39, 48, 116-117;
McCormick, The Second American Party System, p. 208.

292
the blocks, delegates settled in for the battle to decide who would be their standard-
bearer.38
The likelihood of a Clay nomination waned as the convention progressed. Informal
canvasses showed him to have solid support among southern delegates, but only lukewarm
support with everyone else. With Tennessee and Georgia unrepresented and the Arkansas
contingent still en route. Clay supporters could only wait to see what Weed, Thaddeus
Stevens, Harrison's principal backer, and the other anti-Clay managers had in store.
When a Harrison delegate convinced the body to adopt a procedural rule favorable to his
candidate, Clay's fate was sealed. Weed then threw his weight behind the Ohioan. After
the back room maneuvering and unofficial canvassing was completed, the delegates cast
the only official ballot of the convention giving Harrison 148 votes and the nomination.
Clay finished a distant second with 90 votes and Scott took the remaining 16. In a show
of solidarity, the delegates declared Harrison their unanimous choice/9 The North
Carolina delegation, ever loyal to Clay, went home, according to the Raleigh Register,
"disappointed, if not dissatisfied.’,40
’8 Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, p. 97; William Nisbet Chambers,
"Election of 1840," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P. Hansen,
eds., History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea
House Publishers, 1971), 1:644, 657-58. 660-61, 663, 688.
39 Chambers, "Election of 1840," pp. 659-65, 672-73; Michael F. Holt, Political
Parties and American Development from the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), pp. 16-17; Jeffrey, State Parties and
National Politics, p. 96.
40
Raleigh Register. 14 December 1839.

293
Before breaking up, the convention needed to name a vice presidential candidate.
Hoping to balance the ticket with a Clay man, the Harrison Whigs turned to the
Kentuckian for suggestions. Feeling betrayed by his party and unimpressed with Harrison.
Clay refused to help. Left with no alternative, representatives from the two camps met
secretly to consider the possibilities. They first approached John Crittenden of Kentucky,
but he declined out of loyalty to Clay. Benjamin Watkins Leigh of Virginia turned down
the next proffer for the same reason. After taking himself out of the running. Leigh
suggested Willie Mangum. He too felt obliged to Clay and instructed his agents in
Harrisburg to reject the offer.41 Later, Mangum said that had he been there in person he
might have accepted. His wife's bout with scarlet fever had kept him home. Rather than
blame her for this lost opportunity, he joked that it was an outdated wardrobe that
prevented him from going to Harrisburg. "If I had had a new suit," he quipped after the
eventual nominee John Tyler had ascended to the first office, "Mr Tyler perhaps had not
been President.1,42 After considering several others, including Daniel Webster. William
41 George Rawlings Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1936), p. 13; Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the
American Whigs (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1979), p. 141: Niles
National Register. 11 December 1841; The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics-
Literature. Art, and Science. April 1845; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
3:136, 243; Chambers, "Election of 1840," p. 664; Robert Gray Gunderson, The Log
Cabin Campaign (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1957), p. 62.
42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:75.

294
C. Preston, and two members of the North Carolina delegation, the committee chose
Tyler. He accepted and the ticket was complete.43
In April 1840, the field of candidates increased by one when the abolitionist Liberty
Party named James G. Birney their presidential candidate. The next month. Democrats
renominated president Martin Van Burén. Both the incumbent and Birney ran on
platforms. In a race where empty slogans and nonsensical jingles constituted political
dialogue, platforms were unwise. The Whigs knew this and adapted well to the new style.
Offering no true platform, they ran instead on Harrison’s military record and questionable
standing as a common man of the people. Laying to rest their disappointment over not
getting Clay, North Carolina Whigs soon warmed to the man packaged as the hard-cider¬
drinking hero of Tippecanoe. Birney had no such appeal. With very little support outside
New England, his name did not appear on ballots in several states, including North
Carolina. Democrats, split by factionalism and saddled with an unpopular candidate,
conducted a dispirited campaign in the Tar Heel State.44
On May 26, 1840, Orange County's "Republican Whigs" met at the Masonic Hall
in Hillsborough to nominate candidates for local races to be held in August. Delegates
arrived in high spirits, sensing victory and with it a chance to vindicate a favorite son.
With the latter in mind, they unanimously picked Willie Mangum to be their candidate for
the state senate. Dennis Heartt reported that the nominee, who did not attend the meeting,
43 Roben Seager, II, and Tvler too: A Biography of John & Julia Gardiner Tvler (New
York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1963), pp. 134-35.
Chambers, "Election of 1840," pp. 644-45, 666-67, 669-71, 678-79.
44

295
was willing to "submit to the people of Orange."45 Mangum ran an aggressive campaign
from the onset. Long days on the trail were followed by evening visits with neighbors
where Mangum held court. General Joseph Allison, the Democratic nominee, matched
the marathon pace set by his rival. Seasoned observers of local politics were impressed
by their combined energy. William A. Graham remarked at the end of the two-month-
long odyssey that Mangum had "kept in the field constantly untill [sicJ the day of the
election."46 In August the people went to the polls and elected Mangum by an 80 vote
majority. Solid majorities in both Hillsborough and Chapel Hill helped Mangum edge out
Allison 783 to 703.47
With his own fate secure, Mangum set off to campaign for Harrison. Throughout
September and October the well-respected orator spoke with voters and tangled with
Democrats at informal debates. Enthusiastic crowds greeted the Judge as a conquering
hero at almost every stop. In Granville he listened as thousands of supporters chanted his
name. When it came his time to speak, he lashed out at the Democrats with a two-hour-
long indictment of their policies. Sympathetic onlookers described it as "glorious" and
"eloquent."48 Similar exchanges took place in Hillsborough, Caswell County, and
Franklin County. In Chapel Hill, the local Tippecanoe Club paraded about town pulling
45 Hillsborough Recorder. 28 May 1840.
46 Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:110; Shanks,
The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:44.
47 Hillsborough Recorder. 30 July, 15 August 1840;
48 Raleigh Register. 18 September 1840.

296
a "Log Cabin" float and waving a banner bearing Mangum's name. The presidential
election campaign of 1840 in Orange County, as in other parts of the country, was the
most colorful to date.49
The enthusiasm generated by several months of scenes like those witnessed in
Orange County brought voters to the polls in record numbers. Approximately 80 percent
of eligible voters cast ballots nationwide. Politicians like Mangum deserve much of the
credit for rallying the faithful. Grass-roots organizations in every part of the country
introduced the public to a new style of politics, one in which substantive questions took
a backseat to hoopla and mudslinging. The result was unprecedented levels of voter
participation. This is not to say that the two parties sidestepped the major issues.
Southern Whigs questioned Martin Van Buren's commitment to protecting slavery, causing
some worried voters to abandon the Democrats. In addition. Secretary of War Joel
Poinsett's planned militia reorganization troubled those Americans who still harbored the
republican fear of a large standing army. What is more, the prolonged economic slump,
which Whigs ascribed to the fiscal policies of the Democrats, doubtless drew votes away
from the incumbent. Together, the politics of fear — as expressed in the slavery and
militia issues — and the politics of diversion — as seen in the Tippecanoe Clubs and the
mudslinging — produced a Whig victory in November.50
49 Hillsborough Recorder. 17 September, 15 October 1840; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 3:43, 51, 64-65.
50 Chambers, "Election of 1840,” pp. 644, 654, 680-81; Cooper, The South and the
Politics of Slavery, pp. 132-34, 136; Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina, pp. 99-
100; Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 3.

297
William Henry Harrison defeated Martin Van Burén in an electoral college
landslide 234 to 60. With about 53 percent of the popular vote, Harrison could hardly
claim a mandate. The turnabout in the House of Representatives, however, gave the Whig
Party the upper hand in Washington for the first time. When the new senate met in
December, it too would have a Whig majority. In North Carolina voter turnout exceeded
the national average. Eight-four percent of the eligible voters came out for the August
election and 82 returned for the November balloting. Harrison won the state's 15 electoral
votes by an impressive margin of 13,000 votes. At least one newspaper credited Willie
Mangum with marshaling the Whig rank and file behind Harrison. "Judge Mangum
certainly threw his eminent talents into the Whig scale against the 'spoilers,' with a
heartiness and effect that entitle him to the grateful honors of his fellow citizens." the
Greensborough Patriot trumpeted.51 In Orange County, Harrison handily defeated Van
Burén and, contrary to patterns exhibited in other counties, voter turnout between August
and November increased. After the August elections, Whigs had control of both Houses
of the General Assembly and recaptured the governorship. Their superior organization,
coupled with voter discontent with the Democrats, put them over the top in both the state
and national contests.52
51 Quote reprinted in the Hillsborough Recorder. 10 December 1840; See also.
Chambers, "Election of 1840," pp. 681, 685, 690.
52 Kruman, Parties and Politics, p. 27; Hillsborough Recorder. 19 November 1840;
Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 68.

298
With command of the General Assembly, the Whigs were now in a position to
exact their revenge on the Democrats who had forced Mangum out of office four years
earlier. Before taking them on, however, the Whigs tended to organizational matters.
The Assembly convened on November 16, 1840 and within four days had staffed all of the
standing committees. They tapped Mangum for the committee "On Education & the
Literary Fund," a favorite of the reform-minded wing of their party. Before 1840, North
Carolina lawmakers had relied almost exclusively on dividends generated by investments
in bank and railroad securities to fund public education. When this revenue failed to meet
the needs of their state. North Carolina Whigs advocated direct taxation as a supplement.
The party assigned the Education Committee the task of formulating this plan into policy.53
Having concluded their routine business. Whig legislators turned to a more
pleasurable duty: electing two new United States Senators. During the presidential
campaign Democratic Senators Bedford Brown and Robert Strange came under increasing
fire for their refusal to obey Kenneth Rayner's December 1838 resolutions. On June 30,
1840, both senators resigned their seats. Denying the resolutions had anything to do with
53 Hillsborough Recorder. 26 November 1840; John L. Cheney, Jr., ed. North
Carolina Government. 1585-1974: A Narrative and Statistical History (Raleigh: North
Carolina Department of the Secretary of State, 1975), pp. 309-310; North Carolina,
General Assembly, Journal of the Senate of North Carolina (Raleigh: State Printer, 1840,
pp. 4, 25-26; Max R. Williams, "Reemergence of the Two Party System," in The North
Carolina Experience; An Interpretive and Documentary History, eds., Lindley S. Butler
and Alan D. Watson Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984), pp. 246-
47; Richard L. Zuber, Jonathan Worth: A Biography of a Southern Unionist (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1965), pp. 47-48; North Carolina, General Assembly,
Legislative Documents. 1840-41, no. 2. "Report of the Committee on Education, on the
Subject of Common Schools."

299
their decisions. Strange and Brown instead blamed Whigs for having muddled the question
of instructions to such an extent that it became incomprehensible to voters. They had
made the election a referendum on themselves —if the Democrats won in the fall they
would return to the Senate, if not, they would step down.54
Soon after the Whig triumph in August Whig power brokers in North Carolina
began laying the ground for Mangum's return to the United States Senate. Once Harrison
was elected the question of Mangum's reinstatement seemed academic. "Mr. Mangum is
the first choice of all," Paul Cameron wrote with some exaggeration, "the victory will not
be complete until he is restored to his seat.55 Other Mangum loyalists were so confident
of his pending election as to request patronage before the fact. Even skeptical, long-time
observers of the intricacies of caucus politics agreed that Mangum was the man to beat.
The only real race would be for the second vacancy.56
When the Whigs first caucused to choose their senators, two camps vied for power:
The "Republican" Whigs, lead by Willie Mangum, William B. Shepard, John Owen, and
Edward Dudley, and the "Federal" Whigs, dominated by William Gaston, George Badger,
and William Graham. Republicans, representing the states rights wing of the party, came
to the proceedings determined to name Mangum to one of the vacant seats. Federáis, who
54 North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 8 July 1840; Pegg, The Whig Party in North
Carolina, p. 66.
55 J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, ed.. The Papers of Thomas Ruffin. 4 vols. (Raleigh:
Edwards and Broughton. 1918-1920), 2:188.
56Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:118-19;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:72-73.

300
traced their lineage to the National Republican Party, were less certain. The major
sticking point between the two factions was the question of the Bank. While Federáis
hoped to make the restoration of the Bank a litmus test for the nominee, their rivals held
fast to the principle of senatorial independence, the same ideal Mangum had espoused four
years earlier. Nevertheless, Mangum's supporters feared that their man's previous
opposition to the Bank could be a stumbling block. Before the November meeting advisors
urged Mangum to "disabuse" himself of rumors that he was still against recharter. When
the time came, Mangum assured the caucus that he now supported the restoration of the
Bank, as well as the other key plank of the North Carolina Whig Party, distribution.
Having announced this on the first evening of the caucus, Mangum defused any problem
he may have had with the opposition. As the delegates adjourned for the night, even
Mangum’s most outspoken critics had to concede that the former senator would have little
trouble being elected when they next met.57
At their second caucus Whig assemblymen began selecting nominees. The most
obvious compromise was for each faction to be accorded one of the two vacant seats.
Mangum dictated to the body that he would take Brown's, the very one he had left in
1836. Because there were only four months remaining on Brown's term, Mangum was
57 Brian G. Walton, "Elections to the United States Senate in North Carolina, 1835-
1861," North Carolina Historical Review 53 (1976): 172; Norman D. Brown, Edward
Stanly: Whiggerv's Tarheel "Conqueror" (University: University of Alabama Press,
1974), p. 67; J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Party Politics in North Carolina. 1835-1860
(Durham: Seeman Printery, 1916), pp. 70-71; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
3:58; Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:111. 121,
122.

301
in fact voted in twice, once for the short term and then again four a full six-year term.
The other nomination went to the Speaker of the House of Commons, William A. Graham.
On November 24, 1840, the full assembly voted on the respective nominees of the two
parties. As expected, the Whigs easily took both seats.58
The Hillsborough Recorder proudly proclaimed Mangum's return to the senate in
bold lettering. "The Victory Completed," read the headline. Beneath that Dennis Heartt
reprinted a laudatory editorial from the Greensborough Patriot. "Mr. Mangum is a
powerful and brilliant man, and will reflect a splendor from the Senate of the United States
upon the Old North." "The indignant spirit aroused on his being instructed out of the
Senate," the writer recalled with smug satisfaction, "could be allayed by nothing short of
his being instructed in again." Interestingly, the Patriot echoed the same concerns about
Mangum's voting record that the assemblymen raised in caucus. The paper assured
readers that Mangum had "satisfied the members [of the caucus] of his entire devotion to
Whig principles" and so he was good enough for the people of North Carolina.59
Charles P. Kingsbury of New York described Mangum's triumph as "a vindication
of truth and justice." Overwrought remarks like this were understandable; after all. the
Whigs had just won a hard-fought battle against a formidable enemy. Still, nothing as
high-minded as what Kingsbury described had taken place. Truth and justice had not been
58 Walton, "Elections to the United States Senate in North Carolina," pp. 170, 176,
177; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:752.
54 Hillsborough Recorder. 10 December 1840.

302
the issues in 1840; power was. Truth and justice had not been vindicated; Willie Person
Mangum had.*1
60
Ibid. 3:78.

CHAPTER 10
VICE PRESIDENT MANGUM
Willie P. Mangum returned to the United States Senate a leading member of the
majority party. Contrary to the dictates of the Harrisburg convention, it was Henry Clay's
party. William Henry Harrison, the nominal head, might have assumed real power had
fate not stepped in and denied him the chance. When it did, Henry Clay and his
lieutenants took charge. The ease with which they moved into this position revealed a new
cohesion within the Whig Party. They had purged themselves of the divisive elements that
stood in the way of Clay's nationalist agenda in the past. Some, like John C. Calhoun,
found themselves with the Democrats. Others, like Willie P. Mangum, converted to the
nationalism of Henry Clay. In this way, Mangum was the quintessential southern Whig.
A former states rights man, he now embraced the principles of the old National
Republicans and followed without question the path laid out by Clay. Whig solidarity,
once rooted in their distrust of Andrew Jackson, now appeared solidly based on policy
questions. The period between 1841 and 1844 was their heyday. As time would show,
they never again behaved so uniformly or wielded such power as they did for this brief
period. This was also the heyday of Willie Mangum. A critical component of Whig
harmony was the activism and partisanship of Mangum and others like him. He
303

304
subordinated his will to his party and for this was rewarded with what amounted to the
vice presidency.1
Willie Mangum left Walnut Hall for Washington shortly after he learned of his
reappointment to the Senate. Icy roads, deep snow, and bone-chilling cold made this
normally routine passage treacherous. Mangum was glad to reach Washington unharmed,
having narrowly escaped disaster at the hands of a careless driver in Petersburg. Virginia.
His sense of relief was equaled only by his enthusiasm for the upcoming session. On
December 9, 1840, he wrote to tell his wife that "the Whigs meet & rejoice more than 1
ever witnessed before."2 Soon, however, the partisan bickering of his colleagues would
revive his dormant cynicism. "I find so great changes here in the society of members,"
Mangum wrote of life in the capital, complaining of the "inroads made upon the society
by the bitterness of party feeling."3 Already he was pining for home. While the fetid air
of Washington society may have dampened Mangum's spirits, it did not curb his appetite
for the good life. By the Spring of 1841 he had grown fat, the result, he believed, of
"eating fat dinners & drinking fat wine and living without exercise."4 Willie Mangum had
returned to his old ways. To his wife he complained often and loud of the ill will and
partisan rancor that divided the two parties, yet he seemed to revel in the life he so
1 William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery, 1828-1856 (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), pp. 155-56.
2 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed., The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 3:79.
3 ibid., 3:88.
ibid., 3:147.
4

305
condemned. His fondness for socializing (and alcohol) grew, as did his taste for a good
partisan fight.
The Washington that greeted Mangum upon his return in December 1840 differed
greatly from the one he had left behind four years earlier. New alliances replaced old, and
familiar faces, once friends, now stared suspiciously at one another from across the aisle.
The Whig party was now the instrument of Henry Clay: His loyalists controlled the House
of Representatives while he ran the senate. His ability to exercise such power within his
party despite the presence of one of their own in the White House rested in the Whigs'
understanding of the constitutionally prescribed balance of power. They argued that the
executive should defer to the Congress on most issues. The President's power to construct
fiscal policy or distribute patronage needed to be limited to protect the republic from
executive tyranny. Clay imagined his role in the government as that of "Prime Minister."
As the majority leader. Clay was officially charged with, among other things, assigning
senators to various standing committees. With his favorites in all the key posts, Clay
could comfortably assume that before a bill left committee it met with his approval. While
his critics saw Clay's control of the day-to-day agenda of the upper chamber as part of his
plan to win the White House in 1844, friends like Mangum saw him as a patriot and
defended him without reservation.5
5 Joel H. Silbey, The Shrine of Party: Congressional Voting Behavior. 1841-1852
(Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1967), p. 50; John Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats": Party Political Ideology in the United States. 1837-1846 (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 169; Peter B. Knupfer, The Union as It Is:
Constitutional Unionism and Sectional Compromise. 1787-1861 (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1991), pp. 142, 152; Thomas Jeffrey, State Parties and National

306
Under Henry Clay, regional elements within the Whig party united behind a
nationalist agenda. Throughout the 1840s, the Whigs advanced legislation designed to
promote economic diversity and regional interdependence. Southern Whigs in particular
appreciated the need to move their section's economy beyond its agricultural base. They
believed that national unity could best be achieved when all regions were on equal footing
and when every region prospered. Whigs, both northern and southern, attempted to use
the federal government to that end. At the same time, they pushed aside divisive regional
and social issues. Southern Whigs now supported policies they had only recently opposed.
One example of this turnabout was the protective tariff. In 1840, conventional wisdom
suggested that protection profited northern manufacturers at the expense of southern
consumers. As the decade progressed, however, optimistic southerners came to think that
they too would someday have factories in need of protection. Relative to the creation of
an industrial base in the South was the establishment of a new national bank which would
finance this development. To Whigs in the 1840s, a balanced economy meant political
stability.6
Politics: North Carolina. 1814-1861 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), p.
128; George Rawlings Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1936), pp. 19, 37; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
3:187.
6 Larry Keith Menna, "Embattled Conservatism: The Ideology of the Southern Whigs"
(Ph. D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1991), p. 113; Thomas Brown, Politics and
Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1975), p. 171; Jeffrey, State Parties and National Politics, p. 315; Henry M.
Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861 (Baltimore: The
Johns Hopkins Press, 1906), p. 72; Joseph Carlyle Sitterson, The Secession Movement in
North Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), p. 35.

307
For Willie Mangum the political transition to nationalism carried with it
unanticipated personal costs. Mangum and John Calhoun had been friends almost from
the day the North Carolinian first arrived in Washington, and for most of that time they
were political allies. By 1841, such was no longer the case. Until then Mangum had been
able to keep professional differences from coming between him and a friend.
Unfortunately, he also took pride in his caustic wit and did not hesitate to use it as part of
his political repartee. Given Calhoun's notorious temper, a public flair-up between the
two was only a matter of time. It came in February 1841 as Calhoun addressed the senate
on a public land bill. Before resuming his seat, Calhoun turned to Mangum and accused
him of questioning his intellect and slandering the state of South Carolina. Calhoun
referred to remarks the North Carolinian had made regarding his grasp of the issue in
question. Mangum shot back that he was shocked and loudly denied Calhoun's accusation.
He claimed Calhoun had taken his remarks out of context and that he had intended no
slight against either Calhoun or his state. This ended the exchange. At least one of
Mangum's critics thought it staged, part of Mangum's effort, he claimed, to distance
himself from Calhoun. Mangum described the scene to his wife with deep regret, but gave
no indication that it was bogus. The fight chilled relations between Mangum and the man
who in 1836 had backed him for the White House. Eventually they would patch up their
differences, but in 1841 partisanship stood in the way of reconciliation.7
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:113; Hillsborough Recorder. 18
February 1841; J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton and Henry M. Wagstaff, eds.. The Papers of
William Alexander Graham. 8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History,
1957-1992), 2:182.

308
The first test of Clay's influence within the party came when William Henry
Harrison named his cabinet. For Clay, this exercise would determine how Harrison
intended to govern. Would he share power with Clay, or would he side with Daniel
Webster and the northern elements of the party? At first, Harrison seemed to be playing
into Clay's hands. For his Secretary of State, Harrison looked to Clay. The post,
however, did not fit with his plans to manage the party from the floor of the senate, so
Clay refused. Harrison then offered the post to Webster, who accepted. With each
cabinet selection came new controversies and renewed animosities. Clay’s inability to
place loyalist John Clayton of Delaware at the head of Treasury, for example, stirred
resentment in his camp. For all Clay's grousing, however, the Harrison cabinet reflected
both factional and regional balance and, as one member recalled, "perfect harmony and
good feeling.''8
Harrison directed southern delegates to choose from among themselves a Secretary
of the Navy. As a senior figure from the region, Mangum led the caucus. Having
rejected the post himself, he was nevertheless intent on placing a Tar Heel in the office.9
"We have determined," he wrote his wife, "that No. Carolina should not be neglected.”10
To that end, Mangum made certain that Harrison met at least one of the men he had in
8 Quote from, Thomas Ewing, "The Diary of Thomas Ewing. August and September,
1841," American Historical Review 18 (1912):99: Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party,
pp. 15, 19, 21; Robert Gray Gunderson, The Log Cabin Campaign (Lexington: University
of Kentucky Press, 1957), pp. 264-65.
4 Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, p. 20.
10 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:113.

309
mind. After some rancorous debate, the southern caucus settled on North Carolinian
George Badger. Relatively unknown outside his home state. Badger would ultimately
prove to be an ally of Henry Clay, much to the delight of his sponsor Mangum."
For all his success, Willie Mangum still found cause for dissatisfaction. To his
mind, the new cabinet had far too many northerners in it. He feared Webster and the "old
Federalist] clique to the North" would have undue influence with Harrison.12 His
suspicions seemed confirmed when Harrison named Edward Curtis, a Webster loyalist, to
the most sought-after post in the president's arsenal of patronage; customs collector for the
Port of New York. With the appointment of Curtis, Harrison was signaling to Clay that
he would head his own administration and that Clay's heavy-handed machinations had not
gone unnoticed. Mangum thought Clay had been misjudged by the president. "Clay's
advice to the Harrison administration," the biased Mangum wrote shortly after the death
of Harrison, "was always selfless & in the best interests of the Whig Party & the nation."
On the other hand, the "corruption" of northern politicians, Mangum complained, knew
few bounds. To him, these Whigs had outdone the original spoilsmen — the Jacksonians —
in their hunger for office. Old enmities withered slowly. Despite relative harmony within
11 Ibid., 3:86, 91-92, 113-14; Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William
Alexander Graham. 2:163, 164-66; Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, p. 20.
12 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:129.

310
the ranks, this generation of pragmatists refused to give up without a fight the privileges
they saw as rightly theirs.13
Still, if the Whigs were going to survive they needed to act together and direct their
hostilities against the Democrats. To that end. Clay called on Mangum to be his attack
dog during the lame-duck session of the Twenty-sixth Congress. It was a role the North
Carolinian relished. The question before the upper chamber concerned the senate printing
contract. This plum had been controlled by the firm of Blair and Reeves, who had been
installed by the Democrats. In an act of partisan comeuppance, the Whigs, led by Clay
and Mangum, moved to revoke the privilege. On March 5, 1841 Mangum introduced a
resolution demanding their removal. For four days Mangum argued the Whig line in the
senate. William A. Graham marveled at his colleague's abilities, informing his friend,
"Mangum remained until he took the heads off Blair and Rives."14 Democratic Senator
James Buchanan of Pennsylvania was less impressed, mocking the North Carolinian's
transparent ploy as little more than vengeance. But it would be Buchanan and the
Democrats who came up short in this round. The senate carried Mangum's resolution 26
to 18. Optimistic Whigs (of which there were many) saw this victory as evidence of their
new-found power. So far the Whig era was off to a good start.15
13 Ibid., 3:128-29, 145, 187; Max R. Williams, "William A. Graham: North Carolina
Whig Party Leader, 1804-1849" (Ph. D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, 1965), p. 101.
14 Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:176.
15 John Basset Moore, ed.. The Works of James Buchanan: Comprising his Speeches.
State Papers, and Private Correspondences. 12 vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott

311
The sudden death of William Henry Harrison brought the Whigs back to earth.
The president died shortly after midnight on April 4, 1841. Although his tenure had been
racked by factional disputes. Whigs of all stripes gathered to mourn Harrison. In
Mangum’s home county the local organization planned ceremonies to pay their respects.
Mangum accepted an invitation to deliver the funeral oration in Hillsborough, but fell ill
at the last minute and could not attend. Harrison's death saddened Mangum, who now
prayed for the continued good health of Clay, to his mind the unquestioned leader of his
party. He believed that the new president, John Tyler of Virginia, could be trusted to
stand with Clay and promote the Whig agenda. After disappointments over patronage in
the Harrison administration, Mangum looked forward to calm and to having what many
believed to be a "friend of Clay" in the White House.16
On May 31, 1841, congress began a special summer session to wrestle with Henry
Clay’s nationalist program. Early indications were that Clay, seemingly unopposed as
head of the party, would replace the Democrat's Independent Treasury with a national
banking system in the mold of the one that went down in defeat nearly ten years earlier.
The senate moved quickly to kill the Independent Treasury. Within less than one week of
the opening gavel, the Finance Committee, which included Mangum and Clay, drafted a
Repeal Bill. It passed the full senate on June 9 by a vote of 29 to 18, with both North
Company, 1909-1911), 4:391-92; United States Congress. The Congressional Globe. 27th
Cong., 2nd sess., pp. 236-56; James F. Hopkins, et al., eds.. The Papers of Henry Clay.
9 vols. (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 1959-1988), 9:502.
16 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:147, 152, 155, 358; Hillsborough
Recorder. 15, 29 April 1841.

312
Carolina senators casting their lots with Clay. Deliberations in the House took longer, but
the results were the same. Again, the North Carolina delegation voted as one. On August
14, 1841 president Tyler signed the bill into law and the Independent Treasury was dead.
By then so too was the possibility of compromise between Tyler and the majority of
congressional Whigs.r
The first note of discord between Tyler and the Clayites sounded shortly after the
Senate sent the Independent Treasury Repeal Bill to the House. While ideological
questions over states rights and the role of the federal government in the financial affairs
of the nation were central to the debate, questions of power and control proved equally
important. Tyler’s objections to Clay's new bank were rooted as much in his strict
construction principles as they were in his practical desire to win reelection in 1844. A
new bank of his own design would go a long way toward legitimizing his presidency —
something that had been questioned from the time of Harrison’s death — and establish
Tyler as the leader of his party. Similarly, Henry Clay saw the bank issue as a way of
staking his claim to the party's nomination in the next election and of stigmatizing Tyler
as an extremist incapable of compromise.18
17 Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 43-44, 71; Jeffrey, State Parties and
National Politics, p. 133; Larry Schweikart, Banking in the American South: from the Age
of Jackson to Reconstruction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987), p.
47; Herbert Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina (Chapel Hill: Colonial Press,
1968), pp. 133-34.
18 Glyndon G. Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era: 1828-1848 (New York: Harper &
Row, Publishers, 1959), pp. 153-55.

313
The bank stood squarely at the center of the debate. On June 12, 1841, Treasury
Secretary Thomas Ewing submitted to the Senate his plan, which had been begrudgingly
endorsed by John Tyler, for a "Bank and Fiscal Agent" to be headquartered in the District
of Columbia. To Willie Mangum and other Clay men, this plan had a fatal flaw: Branch
offices could not be established in any state without that state's consent. Such a limit on
federal authority threatened to hamstring the new bank by placing it at the mercy of the
states. This aspect alone rendered Ewing's bill unacceptable to Mangum and vilified Tyler
in his eyes. Whig policy called for a stronger, more independent institution, and Tyler,
through his subordinate, had authorized something weak and potentially ineffective.19
Tyler's actions were reprehensible to Mangum, who condemned Tyler as "a weak and
vacillating President surrounded & stimulated by a cabal, contemptible in numbers, not
strong in talent, but vaulting in ambition."20
Tyler's greatest transgression was his rejection of Whig orthodoxy as defined by
the senate leadership. Their plan for a new bank, drawn up by a select committee chaired
by Henry Clay, was similar to that of Ewing with the important exception that theirs would
have unlimited branching powers. On June 21, 1841, the select committee, having set
aside Ewing’s proposal, advised the senate to pass their version of the Bank Bill. Clay
knew that Tyler had constitutional objections to his plan and would probably veto it, but
19 Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 33, 38-39, 40, 44-45; Norma Lois
Peterson, The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tvler (Lawrence:
University of Kansas Press, 1989), p. 67.
2,1 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:181-82.

314
submitted it nevertheless. This was now a battle for control of the Whig Party and in it
Henry Clay relied heavily on Willie Mangum to act as his floor leader. Mangum was
happy to oblige. He wrote extensively on the topic throughout June and July, almost to
the exclusion of all else. His letters reveal his shifting moods. At times he expressed
certitude that the bill would become law, at other times he seemed equally sure that Tyler
would kill the bill, and with it the Whig Party. Still, he never wavered in his belief that
he remained true to Whig ideals and that John Tyler had become "the most miserable man
in the Republic." Adding that Tyler had misrepresented himself when he accepted the
party’s nomination for vice president, Mangum wrote that "as a man of honor he ought
to resign or accede to Whig principles."21
Willie Mangum's steadfast support of the bank placed him in the mainstream of
Southern Whiggery. By the late 1830s. and especially into the 1840s, Southern Whigs and
Northern Whigs had united behind a policy of economic nationalism that included the
expansion of credit, the use of paper currency, limited liability legislation, protective
tariffs, and the bank. Mangum spoke for most Southern Whigs when he argued that these
measures would help the South widen its economic base. Reassurances to that effect
shored-up his confidence. Communiques from business leaders, politicians, and financiers
from New York City and Philadelphia show that Mangum was both well informed and
21 Quote tfom, ibid., 3:188; see also, ibid., 3:161, 180, 181-88, 189. 194, 197, 203-
205, 358; Robert F. Dalzell, Jr. Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973), p. 37; Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 41-
42, 47-48, 51, 57; William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay.
1776-1854 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 364.

315
warmly supported by the nation's economic elite. Ordinary voters supported him as well.
Priestly Mangum noted that people in his neighborhood were questioning Tyler's loyalty
and wondering if he was still a Whig. They said that Mangum spoke for true Whiggery
and should stay the course."
As the debate over Clay's bill carried over into its second month, Mangum began
to show signs of fatigue. His schedule demanded late night sessions in his chambers at
Dawson's boarding house. An occasional meeting at rooms elsewhere meant long walks
home late at night. Mangum thrived in the atmosphere of boarding house politics. Here
he spoke without fear of contradiction that he and Clay were of the same mind on all
matters.23 In a rare admission of his own importance, Mangum told William A. Graham
"that the success of the measure & the cause of the Whig party, depended on Clay & my
humble self."24 Despite his obvious self-satisfaction, long hours in the hot. humid
Washington summer left him physically exhausted and longing for home. When illness
kept him from floor debates, friends expressed concern over the loss of the "mainstay of
22 Schweikart, Banking in the American South, pp. 3, 5-6, 20, 23, 43-45, 54-55, 221,
224; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, pp. 170, 172-73, 186; Jeffrey, State Parties and
National Politics, p. 132; Ashworth, "Agrarians" and "Aristocrats", p. 233; Shanks, The
Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:192, 213, 214, 216.
23 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:175. 196, 220.
24 Ibid., 3:195.

316
the whole concern."25 For a time Mangum was so sick that he spent the afternoons resting
in a cloakroom in the Capitol, venturing onto the floor only to vote.26
On July 28, 1841, Mangum’s hard work was rewarded when the Bank Bill
squeaked through the Senate 26 to 23. On August 6 it passed the House and by the next
day was on the president's desk awaiting his signature. Mangum could hardly contain his
optimism when he wrote J. Watson Webb to tell him the news. Though a veto — cast by
an "imbecile" — threatened the bill, Mangum allowed himself to bask, if only for a
moment, in the glow of a job well done.27 Soon, however, it became clear to most Whigs
that a veto was imminent. So, as Clay prepared to revive the old war cry of "executive
usurpation" in the senate, Mangum lashed out against Tyler in private. "He is drunken
with vanity . . . God save the Republic," Mangum wrote August 13. 1841.28 Three days
later Tyler sent his veto message to Congress. Upon hearing the news. Charity Mangum
sent her husband a note of encouragement. "I am more than astonished at President
Tyler," she wrote shortly after the veto. "True Whigs," she went on, "need Christian
fortitude, and great firmness to know what to do for the best."2''
25 Ibid., 3:202.
26 Ibid., 3:206, 210; Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 50, 82.
27 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P, Mangum. 5:470.
2X Quote from, ibid., 3:215-16; see also, Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp.
45-46, 68, 75, 79.
:i) Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:218.

317
Publicly, some Whigs held out the possibility that they could still work with Tyler
and so began rewriting the bank bill to suit his constitutional standards. Privately,
Mangum viewed reconciliation with Tyler as hopeless. His pessimism was well founded.
In meetings with Secretary Ewing, Tyler fulminated against senate Whigs, expressing
indifference as to their ideas about a second bank bill, which was at the time undergoing
final revision in committee. Tyler, like Clay, was posturing for the next presidential
election and no bank, no matter what form it took, would pass that session. In this climate
of hostility the bill that came from the senate was doomed from the start. Early in
September 1841 the second bank bill cleared the senate and was sent to the White House
for executive approval. Few informed observers were shocked when the president stamped
his veto on the Whig measure. The fissure between the Whigs and Tyler was now an
unbridgeable chasm.3U
Tyler's second veto prompted his cabinet, except Secretary of State Daniel
Webster, to resign en mass. Mangum had known for several weeks that the Clay men
were planning this move and did his best to see that it went smoothly. Before the
resignations, referred to by Webster as the "Clay movement," Mangum met with key
members of the president's official family, including Webster and Ewing, to discuss
strategy in the event of a veto. Mangum made no record of this meeting, but Ew ing later
noted that Mangum had prior knowledge of the exodus and dealt intimately with Webster.
Whatever his intentions, the show of party solidarity in the wake of this closed-door
30 Ewing, "The Diary of Thomas Ewing, August and September, 1841," pp. 99. 101,
103, 109; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, p. 167.

318
meeting was unmistakable. On September 11, 1841, four of the five cabinet officers
handed in their resignations. The act was a clear sign of party unity. Webster remained
in office to complete negotiations with Great Britain to settle, among other things, a border
dispute. While each secretary noted his constitutional objections to John Tyler's course
vis-a-vis the bank, the main reason for their mass departure was doubtless partisan.
Mangum and Clay had succeeded in isolating the president without alienating Webster.
The next move was to disown him. '1
On September 13, 1841, in an unprecedented display of partisanship, the Whig
Party expelled President John Tyler from its ranks. Two days earlier, at a caucus attended
by Whigs from both houses of congress, Willie Mangum presented resolutions calling on
the party to draft a statement that would explain to the people of the country why they had
been unable to pass any meaningful legislation that session. He told the caucus that all
blame should be shouldered by Tyler. Mangum made it known that Whigs had to act as
one and purge themselves of dissenters. The caucus unanimously adopted the resolutions
and assigned a committee of three Senators and five Representatives to draw up the public
disavowal of Tyler in the manner prescribed by Mangum. For the first time in their
history, the Whigs acted with a degree of unity thus far exhibited only by the Democrats.
The expulsion of the last advocates of extreme states rights Whiggery gave the party
31 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:215, 220, 230, 330: Dalzell. Daniel
Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, pp. 37-38; Poage, Henry Clay and the
Whig Party, pp. 100-101.

319
greater cohesion. Willie Mangum's leading role in the episode showed him to be a key
member of a self-disciplined Whig Party.'2
The battle between President Tyler and the Whigs began anew when Congress
returned to Washington after the Fall recess. In December 1841. as part of his first annual
message to the nation, Tyler outlined his proposal for a new financial institution. The
Exchequer Plan, as it was known, proved to be Tyler's last attempt to satisfy congressional
Whigs on the Bank issue. While his plan included many of the provisions Clay had
demanded in the past, it was not Henry Clay's and so it was unacceptable to his legions.
The battle over the Exchequer plan would last until January of 1843, when Whigs in both
houses rejected it before it left committee. Webster's initial support of the bill placed him
at odds with party regulars, but his defection was temporary and soon the Whigs were
again speaking with a single voice.33
The first shots in the Whig attack on the Exchequer were fired by Willie Mangum
when, on December 30, 1841, he delivered one of his rare speeches before the senate.
32 Thomas Hart Benton, Thirty Years View: Or a History of the Workings of the
American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850 2 vols. (New York: D.
Appleton and Company, 1857), 2:357; James F. Hopkins, et al., eds.. The Papers of
Henry Clay. 9:616; Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 104-106; Dalzell, Daniel
Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, p. 41; Peterson, The Presidencies of
William Henry Harrison & John Tvler. pp. 89-90; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, p.
169; Ashworth, "Agrarians" and "Aristocrats", pp. 171-72; Brian G. Walton, "Ambrose
Hundley Sevier in the United States Senate, 1836-1848," The Arkansas Historical
Quarterly 32 (1973):26.
33 Peterson, The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tvler. pp. 96-98;
Merrill D. Peterson, The Great Triumvirate: Webster. Clay and Calhoun (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 314-15; John Niven, Martin Van Burén: The
Romantic Age of American Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 502.

320
The address, filled with republican condemnations of the concentration of power and
tyrannical executives, showed Mangum at his rhetorical best. His allusions to ancient
history and mythology as well as to enlightenment political philosophy invoked ideals that
resonated with the electorate. His immediate objections to the bill, however, had less to
do with idealism of the revolutionary generation than it did with pragmatism of his
generation. Even before Tyler had announced his plan Mangum had signaled his
opposition. His man Clay was about to embark on a bid to become president. With Clay
in the White House, Mangum and the Whigs were certain to pass their program of
economic nationalism. The Whiggish notion of a society bound together by common
interests allowed Mangum to act in a partisan way while genuinely believing that what he
did served the commonweal/4
One supporter described Mangum's speech as "ornate, pungent, sarcastic,
argumentative and every thing else that your friends could desire on such an occasion."'5
William Graham thought it "spicy."36 However put, Mangum was in fine form. He won
praise from people of every social class and in every region. Merchants and bankers in
New York City saw him as their advocate, as did lawyers and planters from the South.
He commanded the respect of party members at every level of government. Mangum
coordinated the activities of Whigs in North Carolina with those in New York. At times
34 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:632-48.
35 Ibid., 3:281.
36 Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 2:249.

321
he involved himself directly in local affairs, as in 1842 when he took rooms in Raleigh to
oversee the election of a new Senator. More often, however, he asked others, most
notably his brother Priestly, to act for him. Supporters from across the country sent him
invitations to be guest of honor at local functions. He generally turned them down or sent
someone in his place. Instead. Mangum preferred to entertain guests at his spacious, well-
ventilated rooms in Washington. Whether cooking salmon for John Bell and Daniel
Webster or pouring whiskey for William Graham, Mangum loved to host friends and
colleagues. A first-rate political fighter, Mangum also knew that charm and a well-cooked
meal could be as persuasive as a "spicy" attack on the president.'7
In April 1842 Henry Clay resigned from the United States Senate. Exhausted by
more then three decades of public service and hoping to devote more time to his
presidential bid, Clay left the business of governing to his trusted lieutenants. Before he
left, Mangum helped organize a banquet in his honor, which was timed to coincide with
the Kentuckian’s sixty-fifth birthday. The celebration lasted late into the evening and was,
by all accounts, a success. Although he was returning to Ashland, Clay knew he would
still wield power in Washington. Mangum and a few other men served as his eyes and
ears in the capital, reporting to him both well-known facts and cloakroom gossip. Clay
37 The Mangum Papers are filled with evidence that Mangum played a key role in
local, state, and national politics. Examples of letters dealing with matters both mundane
and important from the period between 1842 and 1845 can be found in; Shanks, The
Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:221-22, 249, 251, 258, 260. 263, 264, 268, 274-75, 282,
291-92, 293, 332, 376-77, 387-88, 388-89, 400, 458, 469-70; James F. Hopkins, et al.,
eds., The Papers of Henry Clay. 9:724-25; Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of
William Alexander Graham, 2:190, 379, 384.

322
in turn sent advice and instructions to Mangum. The senator did not seem bothered
playing a subordinate role to a private citizen.38
With the retirement of Clay, Willie Mangum assumed a larger role in party affairs.
His service as President Pro-Tempore of the senate between May 1842 and March 1845
carried with it even greater power and immeasurable prestige. These were the proudest
days of his life. He recalled fondly the honor of being chosen by respectful peers and the
responsibility of being first in the line of presidential succession. With no Vice President
— the office remained vacant when Tyler ascended to the presidency — Mangum was acting
Vice President. From this high perch he doled out offices, chaired caucuses, and did his
utmost to foil John Tyler. He carried out his duties with an eye toward serving both his
country and his party.
On May 30, 1841, official word reached the Senate that President Pro-Tempore
Samuel Southard of New Jersey had resigned his post. Southard had been sick for a long
time so few of his colleagues were surprised by the announcement. There had been talk
of replacing him, so when the news arrived in Washington the process for naming his
successor was already in motion. Mangum's connection to Clay and his seniority made
him the first choice of most Whigs. The North Carolinian had long coveted the post and
was disappointed when he did not win it the last time it came up for a vote. On the first
ballot Mangum came up one vote shy of victory. When the field thinned for the second
New York Herald 12 April 1842; Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the
Union (New York; W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), p. 61Ü; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 3:282, 367; Hopkins, et al., eds.. The Papers of Henry Clay. 9:724-
25.

323
ballot, Mangum was an easy winner. The senate did not debate the question on the floor,
suggesting that the determination was probably made in caucus. From this private
conclave came the decision that Mangum would be the formal head of the United States
Senate, and by virtue of office, the highest ranking Whig in the nation. '9
"A long drawn sign — Zounds! Mangum rules!” So quipped an anonymous joker
in Philadelphia.40 Mangum himself took the tribute more seriously. After his election two
senators escorted Mangum to the president's chair. There he delivered a short speech in
which he thanked the senators for the honor and asked their help, admitting that he did not
know "the technicalities of the laws and rules."41 Charity Mangum had mixed feelings
about her husband’s new position. "It appears I am never to have much of your
company," she lamented, adding that while most of his friends in the neighborhood found
reason to celebrate, she could not join them.42 In contrast, Henry Clay was overjoyed.
"Your appointment must have given particular satisfaction at the White House," Clay
mused sarcastically.43
United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 27th Cong., 2nd sess., pp. 554-55;
Niles National Register. 4 June 1842; Michael J. Birkner, Samuel L. Southard;
Jeffersonian Whig (Rutherford. N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1984), p. 197;
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:156, 354, 356. 359-60; J. G. de Roulhac
Hamilton, Party Politics in North Carolina. 1835-1860 (Durham: Seeman Printery, 1916),
p. 80.
40 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:453.
41 Niles National Register. 4 June 1842.
42 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:357.
43
Ibid., 3:356.

324
Clay understood that Mangum's new office carried with it a great deal of power.
During this period the Pro Tempore made all standing committee assignments. Mangum
made the most of this authority, keeping sure that Democrats never got all of the posts
they wanted. While he took no part in the debates and did not serve on committees, he
did suspend voting on occasion and once tampered with the official clock to allow the
senate to finish its business in the allotted time. He also had more patronage at his
disposal. Certain perquisites came with the job. Mangum now had "the best room in the
Capitol," a salary double that of every other senator, travel expenses, and two desks in the
senate chamber; that of the presiding officer and one front and center on the floor.44
At times Mangum was overworked, so much so that one evening he went into the
wrong room and politely waited for the rightful occupant to leave so he could get some
sleep. Still, the honor of being acting Vice President of the United States made the long
hours seem worthwhile. Mangum often referred to himself by the title, as did the press
and public. One New Yorker "made his son illustrious" by conferring the Vice President's
name upon him.45 The fact that he was first in the line of presidential succession
comforted Whigs and alarmed Democrats. Indeed, when an explosion aboard the USS
Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:375; see also, ibid., 3: 323,
383-84, 403-404, 411; 4:28, 47, 224; 5:762-63, 754; George L. Robinson, "The
Development of the Senate Committee System" (Ph. D. dissertation. New York
University, 1954). pp. 122-23; Steven S. Smith and Christopher J. Deering, Committees
in Congress (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1984), pp. 16-17; Magne
B. Olson, "The Evolution of a Senate Institution: The Committee on Foreign Relations to
1861" (Ph. D. dissertation. University of Minnesota, 1971), pp. 80, 284-85.
Quote from, Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:51; see also, ibid., 3:362;
4:34-35; 5:439.

325
Princeton in 1844 took the lives of two cabinet members and nearly took that of Tyler.
Mangum was reminded how close he was to the high office. Rumors of Tyler's
impeachment had been circulating since the first Bank veto. Mangum's enemies feared
this would mean his ascent to the Presidency. In the end. however, Mangum remained a
heartbeat away from the Presidency, by all indications content with this outcome. For
him, the proudest moment of his political career came, he later wrote, when the senate
unanimously voted "to give me the amount of salary fixed by law for a Vice President
elected by the people." Mangum knew that many in the chamber disliked his politics, but
on that day all respected him.46
Caleb Atwater, writing in 1844. described Mangum as one of the ablest men ever
to serve as President Pro Tempore and a commanding figure.47 A second contemporary
wrote that Mangum lent dignity and refinement to the office.48 Historians have chimed in
with their praise of Mangum’s conduct as Pro Tempore. Lauros McConachie noted that
Mangum was an "able statesmen."49 William Brock characterized Mangum as. "one of
Quote from, Hillsborough Recorder. 12 May 1852; see also, Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 3:456, 457, 440; 4:17, 29. 70, 218; Oscar Doane Lambert,
Presidential Politics in the United States. 1841-1844 (Durham: Duke University Press,
1936), p. 54.
47 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:242.
Nathan Sargent, Public Men and Events: From the Commencement of Mr. Monroe's
Administration, in 1817, to the Close of Mr. Fillmore's Administration, in 1853 2 vols.
(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1875), 1:211.
Lauros Grant McConachie, Congressional Committees: A Study of the Origins and
Development of Our National and Local Legislative Methods (New York: Crowell, 1898;
reprint ed., New York: Burt Franklin Reprints, 1973), p. 280.

326
those patient, adroit men whose skill is essential to any legislative assembly" and credited
him with preserving Whig unity.'"
Mangum's critics have been less charitable. The North Carolina Standard bellowed
that "Mr. Mangum does not possess any one single qualification for such a station" after
learning that he was the acting Vice President.51 Historian Glyndon Van Deusen partly
blames Mangum for "a noticeable decline in the manners and morals" of the entire
Congress. He notes (without documentation) how "champagne flowed in the cloakroom
of the senate," and how Mangum, "doubtless with a wry smile on his face, shifted the cost
from the senate’s stationery fund to that of the fuel account.”52
During Mangum's tenure as President Pro Tempore, three issues dominated
American politics: the tariff, the presidential race of 1844, and the annexation of Texas.
Custom dictated that the first officer of the senate refrain from active debate and so
Mangum said nothing of these issues on the senate floor. Once he left the rostrum,
however, he had few restraints. As a leader of his party. Mangum organized caucuses,
monitored elections, worked closely with the press, lined up votes, and raised funds.
Under his leadership, the formal and informal political networks of the party promoted
Whig candidates across the country and pressed its legislative package in Washington.
William R. Brock, Parties & Political Conscience: American Dilemmas. 1840-1850
(Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press, 1979), p. 86.
51 North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 8 June 1842.
52 Van Deusen, The Jacksonian Era, p. 167.

327
For most of 1842 the question of tariff revision vexed official Washington.
According to the terms of the Compromise Act of 1833, rates would fall on July 1, 1842.
With the national debt climbing most observers agreed that scaling back federal revenue
would be unwise. However, plans to raise rates above 20 percent met with stiff resistance
from President Tyler and representatives from the South. Henry Clay's Distribution Bill
of 1841 had passed on the condition that if future tariff rates exceeded 1833 levels, the
distribution bill would be invalidated. Southerners especially favored distribution and
would rather see the tariff remain low than have it die. Every Whig plan to come out of
committee that session called for an increase in rates, and each dodged the distribution
question. President Tyler swore to veto any tariff proposal that ignored the terms of the
1841 agreement. So the battle lines between Tyler and the Whigs were drawn.
Like most Southern Whigs, Mangum backed any tariff that left distribution alone.
More importantly, like most southern Whigs, Mangum held that any attack on the
distribution bill rendered any tariff unacceptable. The Whigs and the president waged their
war throughout the summer of 1842. The first Whig proposal, the so-called "Little
Tariff," was introduced in the House. Its sponsor intended it to be a temporary measure
to delay the automatic imposition of the pre-1833 schedule. The bill protected
distribution, much to the delight of Mangum and the Southern delegation. With their
support it passed both houses, but was vetoed by the President. A second tariff bill
quickly passed both houses. Again Tyler vetoed it for the same reason as the first.
53
Ibid., pp. 162-66.

328
Congressional Whigs were outraged. In the House John Quincy Adams recommended
impeachment proceedings against Tyler. From the Senate Mangum. frustrated for having
languished in Washington for a second consecutive summer, wrote bitterly of the President
and his obstructionist colleagues.54 Of John Calhoun Mangum grumbled, "if listened to,
[he| will theorize you to death."55
Still, Mangum worked tirelessly to reach a compromise. He was grateful to
Northern Whigs for holding fast to distribution, but recognized that the cause was lost.
A third version of the tariff dropped the reference to distribution. Southern Whigs had to
decide whether to vote with their section against the tariff or with their party in favor of
it. With no protection for distribution, Mangum and nearly every other delegate from the
South (both Whig and Democrat) voted against the bill. Even without their support, the
bill passed and on August 30 Tyler signed it into law.56 Henry Clay was generous to those
Whigs who had abandoned the party line. He beseeched his allies in the senate to cast no
recriminations against those who voted against this key plank in the Whig platform.
"Their condition was one of such extreme embarrassment," Clay wrote from Ashland,
"that I can see high motives of public duty for either course." 57
Ibid., pp. 165-66; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:207, 367-68, 374-75;
5:469, 470; Peterson, The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison & John Tyler, pp. 98-
99, 101; Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, pp. 177-79; Ashworth, "Agrarians" and
"Aristocrats", pp. 253-54.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:368.
Brock, Parties & Political Conscience, p. 8; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 3:377.
Hopkins, et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Clay. 9:762-63.

329
Henry Clay's conciliatory tone was based on both genuine friendship for those like
Willie Mangum who had voted against him on the tariff question as it was on political
pragmatism. Clay knew well that the backing of the southern wing of the party was
critical to the success of his presidential bid. and by 1842 that bid was in full gear. Clay's
earliest and most loyal support came from Mangum's own backyard. In November 1841.
Orange County Whigs gathered at the Masonic Hall in Hillsborough to listen as Willie
Mangum sang the praises of Henry Clay. Before adjourning, they nominated Clay to be
their presidential candidate. "I was pleased to see the proceedings of your meeting in
Orange," Charles Green wrote Mangum afterward, "and more so that you made the first
move."58 North Carolina played a key role in the Clay campaign because of Mangum.
He saw to it that meetings across the state echoed Orange County's call. In April 1842,
North Carolina Whigs met in Raleigh to iron out factional differences and name Clay their
candidate. A second meeting in 1843 affirmed the decisions of the first. After the 1842
convention Charles Green wrote that Mangum was responsible for both the meeting and
the harmony left in its wake. The New York Herald agreed that North Carolina Whigs
followed without deviation the path set by Mangum. His popularity was such that he had
to dissuade Green and others from launching a "Mangum for Vice President" drive at the
April 1842 convention.59
58 Quote from, Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:253; see also.
Hillsborough Recorder. 25 November 1841.
59 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:300, 302, 307, 312, 314-15, 321, 481;
George H. Gibson, "Opinion in North Carolina Regarding the Acquisition of Texas and
Cuba, 1835-1855," North Carolina Historical Review 37 (1960):7; Raleigh Register. 12

330
By the end of 1843, Whigs from more than a dozen states had chosen Clay to be
their candidate. Whig harmony, so carefully orchestrated by Mangum in North Carolina,
now seemed assured in the rest of the country. Clay's only real challenger was Daniel
Webster.60 Again. Mangum acted as peacemaker. On the morning of January 8, 1844,
he invited Webster — along with a dozen other party leaders — to his rooms to share "a
saddle of mutton." Webster replied that afternoon, agreeing to "sit in judgement of your
mutton."61 The purpose of the dinner was clear to the Democrats. Cave Johnson, an
adviser to the eventual Democratic nominee James Polk, aptly described the affair as "a
diplomatic dinner."62 Mangum hosted a similar banquet in February.6" The following
month he finally secured Webster’s allegiance after a drinking binge. "You may win him
entirely today, after you . . . have reached the third bottle," J. Watson Webb predicted in
a letter to Mangum on March 9. After so many drinks, Webb went on, "all good fellows
are in a melting mood. I feel quite sure that you can, if you will, send him home an
December 1843.
60 Charles Sellers, "Election of 1844." in Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr., Fred L. Israel,
and William P. Hansen, eds.. History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4
vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:759.
61 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:9.
62Herbert Weaver, et al., eds., The Correspondence of James K. Polk. 7 vols.
(Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1969-1989), 7:38.
Poage. Henry Clay and the Whig Party, p. 111.
63

331
aroused & zealous Clay man." This he did. By March 13. 1844, thanks to Mangum’s
mutton and wine, Webster was now "actively instead of passively" in the Clay camp.64
With Webster safely in tow, the Whigs gathered in Baltimore to endorse Clay. The
convention, which began and ended on May 1, 1844, was relatively uneventful. After a
few speeches, the Whigs nominated Clay by acclamation. His running mate would be
selected by the party bosses. One of them, Willie Mangum, had decided two years earlier
to withhold a public endorsement of any one candidate. Instead he would wait until the
convention in the hope that this would give North Carolina more leverage in picking not
only the vice president, but cabinet officers as well. To his friends, however, Mangum
made no secret of his preferences. In July 1842 he told Clay that General Winfield Scott
would be a good choice. Mangum had spent much of that summer with Scott, playing
whist and talking him out of seeking the first spot on the Whig ticket. Besides Scott, John
Clayton of Delaware and Abbot Lawrence of Massachusetts also appealed to Mangum.
The name of the actual nominee — Theodore Frelinghuysen — does not appear among
Mangum's surviving manuscripts. One name that does is his own. Supporters from
Virginia, Tennessee, and New York wrote that Mangum should get the nod, while Charles
Green thought the North Carolinian's nomination inevitable. As a slave-state Whig,
however, Mangum was at a disability. He and the other party bosses knew that they
64 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:61, 63.

332
needed to balance the ticket between free and slave states. So the Kentuckian Clay was
complemented by New Jersey's Frelinghuysen.65
For more than two years Mangum had labored to place Clay at the top of the ticket.
All the while he painted an optimistic picture of Clay's prospects, repeatedly assuring his
allies that the nomination was a certainty. Now that this was in fact the case, Mangum
beat the Clay drum even louder. His confidence was bolstered by the obvious disarray of
the Democrats. Between 1842 and mid-1844, factionalism and a leadership struggle had
divided the Democrats. Judging from these circumstances, Mangum surmised that the
Democrats were on the verge of self-destruction.66
The issue tearing apart the Democrats was the annexation of Texas. The Republic
of Texas had won its independence following a brief war with Mexico in 1836. Shortly
after that Mangum led the Fight in the United States Senate to grant the new nation official
recognition. He insisted, however, that the United States not become involved in the
internal affairs of the Lone Star Republic and maintain good relations with Mexico.
65 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum 3:242, 292; 4:14, 29-30, 66-67, 71, 74,
79-83; Hopkins, et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Clay. 9:726; Willie P. Mangum to
Charles P. Green, 21 April 1842, Adeline Ellery (Burr) Davis papers. Special Collections,
Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers
of William Alexander Graham. 2:381-82.
66 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:28, 42, 56; 5:477; Willie P. Mangum
to Charles P. Green, 21 April 1842, Adeline Ellery (Burr) Davis papers, Special
Collections, Duke University Library, Durham, North Carolina; Willie P. Mangum to
unknown, 3 July 1842, Willie Person Mangum Letters, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi
Valley Collections, Louisiana State University Libraries, Louisiana State University, Baton
Rouge, Louisiana; Willie P. Mangum to David L. Swain, 27 January 1844, David Lowry
Swain Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North
Carolina.

333
Southern expansionists, on the other hand, wanted to go one step further by annexing
Texas. Widespread fear of exciting the slavery issue along with a desire not to alienate
the Mexican government by taking territory it still claimed for itself prevented the United
States from considering annexation for nearly a decade.67
President Tyler shattered the calm in 1843 when he opened secret negotiations with
the Texan government for the annexation of Texas. He wanted to define himself as an
expansionist and win the upcoming election. Surrounded by flatterers who had convinced
him that he could ride back into the White House on the Texas issue, Tyler pursued
annexation for political reasons. The "corporal’s guard," as this small band of courtiers
were known, convinced Tyler that annexation would lure southern Democrats into his
camp, or at least convince them to offer him their party's nomination. Failing that, Tyler
believed that he could create a party of his own, built around his personality and
expansion.68
With so many presidential hopefuls of their own, few Democrats saw the need to
draft as their nominee an unpopular incumbent from another party. Instead, most seemed
ready to run an unpopular former incumbent from their own party — Martin Van Burén
of New York. In January 1844, Van Burén seemed invincible. He had secured
nominations from twelve state conventions. Only John Calhoun, endorsed by the Georgia
67 Gibson, "Opinion in North Carolina Regarding the Acquisition of Texas and Cuba,"
pp. 2-5; United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 24th Cong., 1st sess., p. 378;
Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun. Nullifier. 1829-1839 (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-
Merrill Company, Inc., 1949), p. 291.
68
Sellers, "Election of 1844," p. 758.

334
convention, and Richard M. Johnson, nominated as a favorite son by the Kentucky
convention, offered open challenges to Van Burén.Mangum delighted at the prospect
of facing Van Burén in November. "If we cannot beat Mr. Van Burén,” he wrote in
February 1844, "we can beat no one." He advised fellow Whigs to do nothing that might
upset Van Buren’s chances for the nomination and brushed aside rumors that he might not
win nomination because of his opposition to annexation. Still, Mangum predicted
ominously that if the Democrats nominate someone other than Van Burén, Clay and the
Whigs could lose the general election. This scenario, he assured his friends in North
Carolina, was unlikely.71'
On May 27, 1844, the Democrats opened their convention at the Odd Fellows Hall
in Baltimore, Maryland. The opinions of twelve state conventions notwithstanding, many
Democratic Party bosses disliked Van Burén. His opposition to annexation rendered him
unacceptable to expansionists. Others cringed at the thought of running a man who had,
only four years earlier, suffered an ignominious defeat. Still more questioned his poor
handling of the economic crisis of the late 1830s. Taken together. Van Buren's opponents
proved a formidable force. They showed their strength even before the first ballot was
cast when they forced the convention to adopt a rule requiring candidates to win two-thirds
of the delegates before they could claim the nomination. This was enough to stall Van
Buren's drive. With each ballot the New Yorker lost support, until the ninth when the
M Ibid., pp. 755-57.
70 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:42.

335
delegates chose James K. Polk of Tennessee. George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania was
named to the second spot. Both the selection of Polk, who supported the annexation of
Texas, and the platform, which called for the "reannexation" of Texas and the
"reoccupation" of Oregon, reveal the expansionist course the party had taken. 1
"We will literally crush this ticket," a cocksure Mangum predicted after learning
of Polk's nomination. "It is a literal disbanding of the party for this campaign," he added
in a letter to his brother Priestly. Indeed, the senator was more impressed by "the
miraculous telegraph" than he was with Polk. In letters to both his wife Charity and his
brother, Mangum marveled at the speed with which Samuel Morse's latest invention
carried the news from Baltimore to Washington. Henry Clay shared Mangum's low
opinion of Polk and agreed that the Democrat's had little hope of winning in November.
The collective confidence of the Whig Party is captured in their famous slogan of the
campaign, "Who is James K. Polk?” What began as a joke about Polk's obscurity became
a rallying cry. And to the mind of Mangum and Clay, Polk was not their only boner. The
Democrats. Mangum wrote, "count much on Texas & its excitements. They will be
mistaken I think." But "Texas & its excitements" proved an excellent vote-getter, more
potent than Mangum had first imagined, and soon he and the Whigs were scrambling to
stop a threatened exodus of southern voters.72
71 Sellers, "Election of 1844," pp. 757, 763-75.
72 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:127-28, 134.

336
On April 26, 1844, four days before the national Whig convention met. Henry
Clay released a public statement condemning the treaty of annexation pending before the
senate. The candidate had recently concluded a southern tour, during which, he told
Mangum, he "found a degree of indifference or opposition to the measure." After a
review by Mangum, John Berrien, John Crittenden, and Alexander Stephens, the "Raleigh
letter" was published in the national Whig organ. The senators had agreed with Clay's
assessment and hoped the communique would define Clay as the candidate of peace and
honor. Clay, his chief advisors, and much of the public thought annexation needlessly
provocative and dishonorable. By coming out against the treaty Clay had set himself apart
from the expansionists in the South and West.74
On June 8, 1844, the senate voted against annexation. The treaty had become
inexorably linked to the presidential campaign, its failure the result of practical, not
ideological concerns. Before 1844. North Carolina Whigs generally favored the idea of
bringing Texas into the Union. When Secretary of State Abel Upshur first broached the
subject to Mangum in January 1844, the President Pro Tempore expressed his regret that
the bill would be credited to Tyler instead of Clay. Mangum had no philosophical
objections to the idea, only to the fact that Tyler would reap the benefits of it. After the
Raleigh letter, however, he led the Tar Heel Whigs in denouncing annexation. Only then
did they voice their concerns for the country's honor, the risk of war, or the threat to
73 Ibid., 4:102.
74 Sellers, "Election of 1844," p. 761; Knupfer, The Union as It Is. p. 154; Poage,
Henry Clay and the Whig Party, p. 137; Remini, Henry Clay, pp. 639-40.

337
cotton prices brought on by overexpansion. In the end it was Clay’s desire to maintain
good ties with his northern allies and his wish to see Tyler fail, not an abiding concern for
Mexico's sovereignty or America’s honor, which prompted him to declare against
annexation. Similarly, Mangum and most southern Whigs voted to reject the treaty out
of loyalty to Clay, not to uphold a sacred principle or avert war/'
Despite his victory in the senate, the success of Polk at the Democratic convention
and the popularity of expansion among some southern Whigs forced Clay to rethink his
position on Texas. On July 1, 1844, he sent a letter to an Alabama editor indicating his
qualified support for annexation, saying he favored it if it could be done without war or
without dishonoring the country. This was not enough for southern Whig expansionists
who sought a clear statement supporting the eventual annexation of Texas. Bowing to
pressure from this faction, Clay issued one on July 27. Northern Whigs protested the
move. The Kentuckian's once solid campaign was coming unglued. With an abolitionist
in the field, James G. Birney of the Liberty Party, reform-minded Whigs had an
alternative to Clay. These "conscience" Whigs became restive when Clay waffled on
Texas. Conversely, southern support seemed unaffected by the policy shift.76
75 Willie P. Mangum to James Watson Webb, 20 April 1844, Mangum Family Papers,
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina;
Gibson, "Opinion in North Carolina Regarding the Acquisition of Texas and Cuba,” pp.
6-9; Claude H. Hall, Abel Parker Upshur: Conservative Virginian. 1790-1844 (Madison:
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1964), pp. 205-206; Poage, Henry Clay and
the Whig Party, pp. 134-35; Sitterson, The Secession Movement in North Carolina, p. 36;
Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1983), pp. 110-111.
Sellers, "Election of 1844," pp. 789-90.
76

338
In the face of northern criticism and Clay's vacillation, Mangum had to double his
efforts to keep the campaign afloat. His most important function was raising and
disbursing funds for the party. Publishers, writers, ward bosses, pamphleteers, and
countless other supplicants took from his open purse. Special attention was accorded the
press. Under Mangum the party subsidized newspapers to keep their prices low and save
those in financial trouble. Throughout the campaign he kept up his lifelong practice of
feeding Whig editors the latest gossip from the capital and saw nothing wrong with using
his franking privileges to that end. He instructed junior members of congress to do the
same.77
As the nation's highest ranking Whig, acting Vice President Mangum was a much
sought-after speaker. Invitations to campaign rallies came from as far away as Fort
Wayne, Indiana and as near to home as Oxford, North Carolina. Northern and Southern
Whigs alike called on Mangum to come and visit "Clay Clubs" or share barbecued meat.
Organizations in large cities like New York, Richmond, Providence, and Philadelphia, and
small towns such as Henderson, North Carolina, Vandalia, Illinois, and Madison, Georgia,
all tried to lure Mangum to their meetings. Some coaxed him with flattery, others
emphasized the high stakes involved and warned of the dire consequences of a Democratic
victory. At least one group professed a belief that his presence at a rally or picnic would
77 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 3:308, 390, 397, 402, 411, 446; 4:25-26,
55-56, 73-74, 111-114, 160, 163-164, 179; 5:476-77.

339
help avert this calamity. Mangum's busy schedule compelled him to turn down most
invitations.78
Mangum's Washington office served as a clearinghouse for campaign information.
The senator gathered data from various parts of the country, then distributed it to his
allies. These grassroots workers carried it to the public. One grateful recipient of
Mangum's patronage drummed up support for the Whig cause in his hometown of
Lincolnton, North Carolina. Priestly Mangum also campaigned at his brother's request.
Lower echelon party members looked to Mangum to settle disputes within their ranks and
first-time candidates sought advice and favors. His high post as chairman of the Senate
Whig Committee overseeing the campaign did not prevent him from attending to small
matters. An engraver from New York asked him to approve a likeness of Clay to be used
on a stickpin. The craftsman designed the ornament to be cheap enough for a wide
circulation. To bring Clay’s message to German immigrants, Mangum compiled Clay’s
speeches and sent them to an author preparing a German-language biography of the
candidate. As election day neared, panic-stricken Whigs turned to Mangum for comfort
or last-minute instructions. Doubtless, these were the most hectic and exhausting months
of his life.79
78 For a sampling of these invitations see, ibid., 3:384-85, 385-86, 451, 473; 4:50, 58,
65. 107, 114, 132, 133, 134-35, 136, 148-50, 150-52, 153, 158, 166-67, 177-78, 189-90,
197-98, 201-202, 206.
79 Ibid., 3:414, 459-60, 464; 4:15, 26, 47, 54, 60, 65-68, 104, 129, 154, 159-61, 162,
184-85, 193-96; Hillsborough Recorder. 1 June 1843.

340
In August 1844, Tar Heels went to the polls to elect state officers. In a letter to
Mangum, who was resting at Walnut Hall, Paul Cameron proclaimed a Whig sweep.
They controlled both chambers of the General Assembly and sent William Graham to the
governor's mansion. However, Graham's margin of victory was less than that of John
Morehead's years earlier, tarnishing slightly the Whig triumph. Mangum showed no sign
of concern. Indeed, a combined Whig majority of twenty-five seats in both houses meant
that he would be reelected to his seat in the senate unless a dramatic turnabout occurred
in the next two years. That was unlikely given the Whigs' firm hold on the reins of power
and the popularity of leaders like Mangum.80
With his state's elections behind him, Mangum focused all of his energy and
attention on November's national election. As election day approached leaders from
Maine, New York, as well as Clay himself, sought solace from Mangum. "As a
Lieutenant of the Great Captain I appeal to you," a desperate Nicholas Carroll of New
York wrote Mangum in early September. "You are not needed in the 'glorious old
North,'" he wrote flatteringly, trying hard to get Mangum to make a campaign appearance
in New York.8' At least one Tar Heel did not think that Mangum's work in North
Carolina was complete. Alfred M. Burton, a lawyer from Beatty's Ford, North Carolina,
asked Mangum to bring together warring factions in North Carolina's Whig Party. "I do
80 Hillsborough Recorder. 22 August 1844; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
4:169; Max R. Williams, "William A. Graham and the Election of 1844: A Study in
North Carolina Politics," North Carolina Historical Review 45 (1968):42-43.
81 Quote taken from, Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:180-83; See also,
ibid., 4:180-84, 190-91, 193-96, 201.

341
not know of any gentleman in the state who has it in his power to render as great a service
in counteracting this state of feeling as yourself," an anxious Burton wrote.82
The pressures of being pulled in so many directions at once, a demanding speaking
tour, and the responsibility of leading his state's party, wore Mangum out. In late August,
while visiting his brother Priestly between speaking engagements, Mangum fell ill.
Doctors diagnosed respiratory distress and prescribed bed rest. The Hillsborough Recorder
sounded the alarm and soon news of poor health had reached the New York newspapers.
Well-wishers sent their regards and prayed for a quick recovery. Mangum remained ill
longer than his doctor had first predicted, perhaps because he insisted on conducting
business from his bed. In time he returned to the campaign trail. On the weekend before
the election he gave his final campaign speech. Hillsborough Whigs charged that the
Democrats had called a meeting indecently close to election day. So they met at the Court
House in Hillsborough and held an impromptu meeting of their own with Mangum as the
guest of honor. With that, a long campaign season came to an end.8'
"All gone hell-ward," Dennis Heartt wrote Mangum when the first returns reached
his newsroom.84 Mangum's best work could not bring his friend victory in November.
By the time the last polls closed Henry Clay had lost one of the closest presidential races
82 Ibid., 4:204.
83 Hillsborough Recorder. 2, 5 September, 11 November 1844; Willie P. Mangum to
David L. Swain, 31 December 1844, David Lowry Swain Papers, North Carolina
Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 4:205, 208-209.
Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:219.
84

342
in American history. Polk won 170 electoral votes to Clay's 105, but by a margin of only
1.4% of the popular vote. A shift of a few thousand votes in New York and Michigan
would have given those states, and the election, to Clay. He did capture North Carolina —
including Mangum's home county of Orange -- by 792 votes more than Graham had won
in August. The Texas issue had no effect on the outcome of the election in North
Carolina, but Whigs in other parts of the South did desert Clay because of it. The
November results show both the strengths and limitations of Mangum as a party leader.
North Carolina was now safely Whig, and Mangum deserved much of the credit for that.
However, he underestimated northern opposition to annexation. Mangum should have
advised his candidate to keep to the terms of the Raleigh letter. Instead he allowed Clay
to appear indifferent to the fears of northerners opposed to the extension of slavery. This
probably cost Clay both New York and Michigan, where James Birney siphoned off
enough votes from the Whigs to allow Polk victory in both states. Mangum was slow to
appreciate the growing strength of political anti-slavery, and this would be his downfall/5
In December, Mangum returned to Washington in a fighting mood. He instructed
friends from around the country to look into charges of massive election fraud. Associates
in Florida and Alabama told of irregularities in their states. With evidence of Democratic
wrongdoing in Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, Mangum and John
Crittenden felt a senate investigation was in order. Still, Mangum urged caution, knowing
85 Sellers, "Election of 1844," pp. 795-98, 861; Hillsborough Recorder. 7 November
1844; Gibson, "Opinion in North Carolina Regarding the Acquisition of Texas and Cuba,"
pp. 11-13.

343
full well that such an investigation would appear politically motivated. Besides, with
similar charges coming from the Democrats it was possible that the senate could have
turned up evidence of Whig cheating. In the end Mangum and the Whigs could do nothing
but lick their wounds. The fate he once thought carved out for the Democrats — defeat
and irrelevance — now threatened to be his own. As he prepared to step down as President
Pro Tempore of the Senate, Mangum was bitter sweet. Ready to get home, he was also
anxious about the future of Whiggery. With Clay gone, the job of keeping the party
together until the next election fell to him.86
86 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum, 4:224-25, 333-34, 238, 244-45, 250-51,
254, 277, 280.

CHAPTER 11
HOLDING ON
Henry Clay's defeat in 1844 had seriously injured the Whig Party. They had
narrowly lost the White House and sank to minority status in both houses of congress. The
election also cost Willie Mangum his job as president pro tempore of the senate. Bickering
among themselves, despondent over Clay's defeat, and wary of the voters, the Whigs
appeared on the verge of collapse. By 1848, however, they had rebounded. Credit for
the reversal belonged to Whigs like Mangum who led the party through this troubled
period. "We must avoid a collapse," Mangum wrote Paul Cameron in 1846, guaranteeing
that if they did the Whigs would regain the White House in 1848. Using his superb
parliamentary skills and beguiling charm, Mangum delivered on his bold promise. He
knew that holding on, that simply existing, had become the raison d'etre of his party.
Despite the difficulties of leading the opposition in time of war, Mangum restored health
to an ailing party and proved himself a political chieftain without peer.1
1 Quote from Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols.
(Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 4:514; See also, ibid;
4:252; Michael F. Holt, "Winding Roads to Recovery: The Whig Party from 1844 to
1848," in Stephen E. Maizlish and John J. Kushma, eds.. Essays on American Antebellum
Politics (College Station: Texas A&M University Press. 1982), pp. 122, 135-36; William
J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1978), p. 225; Douglas Arthur Ley, "Expansionists All? Southern
Senators and American Foreign Policy, 1841-1860" (Ph. D. dissertation. University of
Wisconsin-Madison, 1990), p. 60; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the
344

345
The most urgent matter facing the lame-duck Congress in December 1844 was the
acquisition of Texas. Claiming Polk's victory as a mandate for annexation, expansionists
in Congress drafted a joint resolution to annex the Lone Star Republic just after the
election. Like most southern Whigs, Mangum opposed the effort for fear it would ignite
the slavery issue and outrage his northern allies. The generation of pragmatists who had
governed alongside Mangum for more than twenty years had kept slavery out of national
politics. Now Texas threatened to open a debate that would split his party along sectional
lines. Coming so soon after the November defeat, the admission of Texas could prove
devastating for the Whigs. On January 25, 1845, the House of Representatives voted 120
to 93 in favor of the resolution. The bill was then sent to the Senate for consideration.2
Annexation, Willie Mangum wrote one week before the senate voted, "will stir to
its foundation the abolition & antislavery feeling, & lead not remotely 1 fear to a state of
things deplored by every friend of the country." Of the likelihood of war, he added,
"Mexico cannot, & England will not fight for Texas.10 The Democratic agenda, Mangum
wrote another ally, was "an outrage on the Constitution & past precedents. "4 As President
Pro Tempore, Mangum could only lobby in private against the Texas resolution. The fact
White House (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1951), p. 205.
2 Herbert Dale Pegg, The Whig Party in North Carolina (Chapel Hill: Colonial Press,
1968), p. 143; Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 8, 16-17; William R. Brock, Parties &
Political Conscience; American Dilemmas. 1840-1850 (Millwood, N.Y.: KTO Press,
1979), p. 146; George H. Gibson, "Opinion in North Carolina Regarding the Acquisition
of Texas and Cuba, 1835-1855," North Carolina Historical Review 37 (1960): 14.
3 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:268-69.
4 Ibid., 4:271.

346
that President-elect Polk was in Washington soliciting for the opposite — and doing it
better — bothered the senator. By February 20 Mangum conceded that the Democrats
would win, the difference being, he correctly predicted, three "fishy" southern Whigs who
favored annexation. His forecast proved correct. On February 27, 1845, the resolution
passed the senate 27 to 25 with Mangum voting in the minority. On March 3, 1845,
President John Tyler invited Texas to join the Union. The next day, Mangum stepped
down as President Pro Tempore, and by March 17 he was on a long-awaited journey
homeward.5
The friendly confines of Red Mountain restored the battle-weary senator.
Plantation routines, visits from family, friends and neighbors, all compared favorably to
the hectic pace of Washington. Invitations to formal affairs, often called in his honor,
came from around the state, but he refused most. In July, the University of North
Carolina conferred upon Mangum a Doctorate of Law, but he did not attend the ceremony.
Two others so honored that day — President Polk and Attorney General John Y. Mason —
also did not go to Chapel Hill. Life in North Carolina, while slower than life in
Washington, had its problems. Mangum's year-round duties as party chief were
demanding, and included everything from building up newspaper subscription lists to
advising Thomas Clingman how to deflect criticism following a duel. In that instance
5 Ibid., 4:269, 271, 277, 280; Ley, "Expansionists All? Southern Senators and
American Foreign Policy," pp. 7, 15-16, 18, 58; Charles G. Sellers, James K. Polk.
Continentalist. 1843-1846 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), p. 186; David
M. Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas. Oregon, and the Mexican War
(Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973), p. 182.

347
Mangum was more concerned with losing the support of "religionists and churchmen" in
the mountain districts than he was with the safety of those involved or the morality of
dueling. As much as he "abhorred" duelling, Mangum sympathized with Clingman, whom
he regarded as the aggrieved party. "It was regretted that he had to fight, but it was
unavoidable." "To have declined," Mangum added, "would have disgraced him here [in
Washington] & destroyed his weight and influence." For Mangum, the issues at stake
were honor and power; the laws of his state and the opinions of "religionists and
churchmen" were secondary.6
Although the minority party, the Whigs who gathered in Washington in December
1845 were some of the best known and most respected figures in America. One
Democratic editor even conceded that they were better than the leaders of his own party.
In addition to Mangum, the Whig pantheon featured John Crittenden of Kentucky, Daniel
Webster and John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, John Clayton of Delaware, Thomas
Corwin of Ohio, John Berrien of Georgia, William Archer of Virginia, and John Bell of
Tennessee. With Henry Clay retired to Ashland, rank and file Whigs regarded men like
Mangum and Crittenden as heirs whose time had come." James B. Mower of New York,
6 Quotes from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:269; See also, ibid.,
4:254-55, 298-99; J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton and Henry M. Wagstaff, eds.. The Papers
of William Alexander Graham. 8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and
History, 1957-1992), 3:46-47; John C. Inscoe, Mountain Masters. Slavery, and the
Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press,
1989), p. 301; Kenneth S. Greenberg, Masters and Statesmen: The Political Culture of
American Slavery (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), pp. 23-24.
7 Sellers, James K. Polk. Continentalist. p. 312; New York Herald. 16 August 1847;
John H. Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War; American Opposition and Dissent. 1846-1848

348
for example, said Mangum, Crittenden, and Clayton were "the great pets of the Whig
Party."8 Party officials similarly looked to Mangum as a leader. His influence within the
party, North Carolina's Thomas Clingman wrote, was second only to Clay.9
Representative Truman Smith of Connecticut hailed Mangum "a man of eminent ability,
spotless integrity, and of patriotism that embraces every national interest."10 The National
Whig called him "a prominent actor in the scenes of the Senate," calling attention to his
"wisdom" and oratorical skills.11
Having stepped down as President Pro Tempore, Willie Mangum could now speak
freely on the floor of the senate. And speak he did, as if trying to make up for two and
a half years of silence. As senate minority leader he rose often to make a point of order,
call a question to a vote, recommend debate, or request adjournment.12 He always seemed
(Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1973), pp. 5-6; Merrill D. Peterson, The
Great Triumvirate: Webster. Clay and Calhoun (New York: Oxford University Press,
1987), P. 415; Brock, Parties & Political Conscience, p. 17; Arthur C. Cole, The Whig
Party in the South (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1913), p. 79;
Robert F. Dalzell, Jr., Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin, 1973), pp. 99, 171; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:281-
85, 292-93.
8 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:43.
9 Ibid., 5:459.
10 Ibid., 5:342.
11 National Whig (Washington, D.C.), 17 February 1849.
12 The position of "minority leader" did not exist as such in the mid-nineteenth century.
However, historian Lauros McConachie refers to Mangum as such twice in his study of
congressional committees, so I have taken the liberty to extend the title to Mangum
posthumously. Lauros Grant McConachie, Congressional Committees: A Study of the
Origins and Development of Our National and Local Legislative Methods (New

349
aware of the mood in the chamber, perhaps because he frequently counted heads to see if
the senate had a quorum or if his party had enough votes on a given measure. Senators
from both parties gathered at his desk to discuss matters off the record. There Mangum
conversed with members of his party, for whom he later presumed to speak. No Whig
backbencher ever objected to this practice. Indeed, no one ever took great offense at
anything Mangum said on the floor. Even his sarcastic remarks went unchallenged. At
ease at the front of the chamber, he brought levity and intimacy to the senate, and his
colleagues appreciated him for that. What some did not appreciate were his formal
speeches. Relying on sketchy outlines instead of detailed notes, they tended to be long,
repetitive and full of literary and historical allusions. At least one observer thought
Mangum's style better suited for the stump or the drawing room than the senate.1-'
The elder statesmen continued to do his best work out of public view. At the start
of each congressional session, for example, he privately worked out committee
assignments with his opposite in the Democratic Party. The two leaders then presented
their recommendations to the senate, which invariably approved the list. Senators in the
York: Crowell, 1898; reprinted.. New York: Burt Franklin Reprints, 1973), pp. 281,
283. For examples of Mangum's behavior on the floor of the senate see. United States
Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 19-21, 428, 454, 488,
668, 680, 766; ibid., 29th Cong., 2nd sess., pp. 94, 99, 566; ibid., 30th Cong., 1st sess.,
pp. 19; ibid., 32nd Cong., 1st sess., pp. 805, 1097, 1606.
13 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:417-18, 744; Niles National Register.
18 December 1847; Hillsborough Recorder 11 September 1861; George L. Robinson,
"The Development of the Senate Committee System" (Ph. D. dissertation, New York
University, 1954), pp. 124, 130-31; Ley, "Expansionists All?", p. v; McConachie,
Congressional Committees, p. 280.

350
mid-nineteenth century saw themselves as members of a gentleman’s club. They acted
informally, as if dealing among friends. Affable, outgoing men like Mangum thrived in
this setting. Yet, Mangum was even more effective outside the senate chamber. Dinner
parties were his forte. He combined wine, good conversation, and humor to great effect.
Diplomats, legislators, even presidents called on him at his rooms in Washington. All
understood that his chambers were sacrosanct, whatever was said remained privileged and
little was ever written down.14
So much of the Whigs’ success between 1845 and 1848 rested on the personality
of Willie Mangum. Friends and adversaries alike were charmed by his pleasant demeanor
and ready wit. Reverdy Johnson wrote "his friends were numerous, his enemies, I
believe, none."15 William A. Graham thought Mangum "a charming, agreeable
companion.”16 The most convincing praise came from James Polk, a man reluctant to
speak kindly of those who opposed him. "Mr. Mangum, though a Whig, is a gentleman,"
14 Among the Willie Person Mangum Papers at the Duke University Library in
Durham, North Carolina are dozens of calling cards from cabinet officers, congressmen,
ambassadors, and other dignitaries. Many are signed and some carry a personal message
to Mangum. See also, John C. Calhoun to Willie P. Mangum, 17 December 1844. Willie
P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; James Buchanan to
Willie P. Mangum, 23 January 1846, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:254, 256, 333,
449-50; 5:325, 417-18; Hillsborough Recorder 11 September 1861; Brian G. Walton,
"Ambrose Hundley Sevier in the United States Senate, 1836-1848,” The Arkansas
Historical Quarterly 32 (1973):29; Albert D. Kirwan, John J. Crittenden: The Struggle for
the Union (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 1962), p. 223.
15 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:432.
16
Ibid., 5:418.

351
the president confided to his diary, adding that he found the senator "fair & manly in his
opposition to my administration.”17 On Christmas night 1847 the two rivals dined together
at the White House. Mangum let those around him know his feelings. "I never flatter my
friends," he wrote John Crittenden in 1846, "I have never flattered you - I will therefore
say; that the more I know you, the more I respect and love you." Without a doubt,
Mangum's greatest political asset was his personality. As it happened, Mangum’s gift
would be sorely needed in 1846, a year that saw the United States go to the brink of war
with one foreign power and over the threshold with another. 18
The second plank of the Democrat's expansionist platform of 1844 was the
"reoccupation" of Oregon. Since 1818 the territory had been jointly occupied by the
United States and Great Britain. By 1845, however, American settlers in the Willamette
Valley had established a provisional government and were demanding that the United
States claim sole jurisdiction to Oregon. Expansionists in the East, many of them
Democrats, echoed their plea that the United States notify Great Britain of their intention
to abrogate the treaty and assume unilateral control of the entire territory. Opponents of
17 Milo Milton Quaife, ed., The Diary of James K. Polk during his Presidency. 1845
to 1849. 4 vols. (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1910), 3:381.
18 Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:530: See also, ibid.,
4:405; 5:88, 417-18; Hillsborough Recorder 11 September 1861; Nathan Sargent, Public
Men and Events: From the Commencement of Mr, Monroe's Administration, in 1817, to
the Close of Mr. Fillmore's Administration, in 1853. 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott
& Co., 1875), 1:211.

352
expansion, many of them Whigs, thought this position needlessly belligerent and urged
their government to steer a more moderate course.19
But moderation was the last thing on the mind of Democratic Senator Lewis Cass
of Michigan. In December 1845, he stepped forward with a resolution calling for the
senate to investigate the military preparedness of America's armed forces. He had, in
effect, notified the British government that United States would fight for Oregon. Before
this, the Whigs had haltingly backed Polk's decision of July 1845 to negotiate with the
British for a division of Oregon along the forty-ninth parallel. When these talks broke
down, however, expansionists renewed their demand for all of Oregon. Leading the
charge, James Polk, in December 1845, recommended notifying the British that joint
occupation of Oregon would end in one year. Shortly after that, Cass introduced his
resolution. Given the senator's close association with the administration as well as the
timing of both statements, Whigs could rightly assume that Cass and Polk were speaking
20
as one.
It fell to Willie Mangum to answer Cass and define the Whig position. On
December 15, 1845, after listening to Cass defend his resolution, Mangum offered the
Whig rebuttal. He admitted that up to that point he had been pleased with Polk's handling
of the negotiations and confessed he would rather the country go to war than suffer an
19 Frederick Merk, The Oregon Question: Essays in Anglo-American Diplomacy and
Politics (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1967), pp. 372-73; Pletcher, The Diplomacy of
Annexation, pp. 301, 310, 580.
20 Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 13-14, 64-65; Sellers, James K. Polk. Continentalist.
p. 362.

353
unjust or dishonorable settlement. He added, however, that the United States must not be
the aggressor, that firing the first shots in a war was uncivilized and dishonorable.
Throughout his speech Mangum assured listeners that if the nation went to war, the Whigs
would stand with the president and face down the foreign menace. Until then, they would
be the voices of reason and moderation. He laid to rest fears that the Whigs would suffer
the same fate as the Federalists who had opposed the last war. Mangum knew that their
opposition to the War of 1812 had cost them dearly and in his effort to hold the Whigs
together to the next election meant he would avoid the same pitfall. "When the struggle
comes," he said, "there is no man in America whose blood flows warmer or more rapidly
in favor of republican government." As Mangum stated, the struggle was not partisan, it
was not between Whigs and Democrats. The struggle was between a corrupt monarchy
and a virtuous republic. Thus Mangum criticized a popular administration facing a foreign
crisis while seeming fervently patriotic.21
By defining the Whigs as the loyal opposition so early in the debate, Mangum had
not only forestalled the likely Democratic attacks on Whig loyalty but had also
foreshadowed their strategy for the next international crisis — the Mexican War. Mangum
won praise from all quarters for his moderate address. "I thank Senator Mangum . . . for
giving tone - not a war tone, but a high American tone" to the debate, an anonymous
contributor wrote in a New York newspaper.22 "Allow me. Dear Sir," Thurlow Weed of
21 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:649-658.
22
Ibid., 5:480.

354
New York began, "to thank you most ardently, for the enlightened and patriotic course
you took upon Gov. Cass' Resolution."^ Even some expansionists liked what Mangum
had to say. Members of the "Texas and Oregon Association" of New York were so
impressed by his remarks that they invited him to their annual ball. "Although they differ
with you in general politics," one observer wrote, "they nevertheless appreciate, and honor
the integrity of a man who casts aside party distinction, and fearlessly and magnanimously
comes to the aid of his country when threatened with invasion by foreign foes."24
Impressed by both the message and the printing. Mangum sent the invitation to his
daughters and instructed them to copy it one hundred times each to practice their
penmanship. The proud father then boasted, "the invitation & the note show that I struck
the right note."25 Only his brother Priestly chose to dampen Mangum's high spirits. "You
don’t do yourself justice in your late speech," he chided, blaming his older brother's
failings on his refusal to read from a prepared text.26
The new year found Mangum working privately to resolve the mounting crisis. On
January 1, 1846, he pressured newspaper editor James Watson Webb to attack the
administration's plan to notify the British that joint occupation would cease in one year.
He continued to hold and attend dinner parties with leaders from both parties and Britain's
chief negotiator, Richard Pakenham. The morning after one gathering, Mangum returned
23 Ibid., 4:337-38.
24 Ibid., 4:339.
25 Ibid., 4:345.
26
Ibid., 4:377.

355
to the senate to help postpone debate on an abrogation notice. For all his dire predictions
and stern warnings about party solidarity in official correspondences, Mangum kept his
letters to home light, cheerful, even humorous. On the day he told Webb that if America
served notice war was inevitable, he assured his daughters "We shall not have war."27 He
later sent Sally a brochure describing all of the wonders of Oregon. "What say you after
reading," he goaded her in a fatherly way, "Shall we go?" He closed by reminding, "Let
me know if you are all for Oregon - if so - We must be off early in March."28
On January 26, 1846. Mangum once again rose in the senate to define Whig policy
regarding Oregon. This time he proffered an amendment to a gently-worded resolution
presented by his friend John Crittenden authorizing the president to notify Great Britain
that the United States intended to abrogate the treaty of joint occupation. Crittenden
requested, however, that Polk delay notification until the end of the current congressional
session to "afford ample time and opportunity for the amicable settlement of all their
differences and disputes." Mangum's proviso called for an arbiter to settle those
"differences and disputes." By offering an alternative to the two extremes — taking all of
Oregon without consulting the British and maintaining the status quo — the two leaders
27 Quote from, ibid., 4:345; See also, ibid.. 5:482-83; Richard Pakenham to Willie P.
Mangum, 18 January 1846, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress,
Washington, D.C.; Richard Pakenham to Willie P. Mangum, 7 February 1846, Willie P.
Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Frederick W. Seward,
ed.. Autobiography of William H. Seward. From 1801 to 1834, With A Memoir of his
Life, and Selections from His Letters from 1831 to 1846 (New York: D. Appleton and
Company, 1877), p. 775; Sellers, James K, Polk. Continentalist. pp. 365-66; Ley,
"Expansionists All?", p. 66.
28 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:347-48.

356
defined the Whigs as reasonable centrists desirous of settling the stalemate short of war.
North Carolina Whigs, who, until then, had given little thought to the Oregon question,
wrote of their appreciation. James Watson Webb of the New York Courier and Enquirer
dissented from his fellow Whigs, declaring that Mangum and Crittenden had sacrificed
their principles to expediency. Mangum would have been hard-pressed to argue with
Webb, for such had been his habit through most of his political life.29
Arbitration did appeal to Richard Pakenham. He had been working tirelessly
throughout January and early February 1846 to get Secretary of State James Buchanan to
agree to mediation. The American rejected his first proposal because he believed that the
act of negotiation itself was evidence that Great Britain had a legitimate claim to the
region. When the British legate suggested that Switzerland or one of two German
principalities mediate, Buchanan again balked, this time because he feared that a European
monarchy would never give the North American republic its due. Finally, Polk rejected
arbitration outright. Both governments issued thundering warlike statements: indeed, the
two seemed as far apart as ever.'"
Polk's aggressive posturing outraged the Whigs. With the possibility of arbitration
lost, they now turned to filibuster. They concentrated their efforts on delaying the debate
on the notice question. Throughout February Mangum met with leaders from his own
29 Quotes from. United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong.. 1st
sess., p. 239; See also, Niles National Register. 31 January 1846; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 4:382. 395; 5:456.
30 Merk, The Oregon Question, pp. 219-23; Sellers, James K. Polk. Contmentalist. pp.
387.

357
party and John Calhoun, long an advocate of peaceful settlement, to plan their next move.
These conferences produced a plan to extend the forty-ninth parallel boundary line to the
Pacific. Once the idea was presented to a party caucus, however, timid Whigs rejected
it for fear that they would suffer negative political repercussions if the plan proved
unpopular with voters. When John Calhoun put the idea to Polk he too rejected it, though
he kept open the possibility of compromise. The president told the South Carolinian that
he would submit any compromise offer to the senate for their recommendations. So the
pattern continued. While railing against compromise in public. Polk worked privately to
settle the matter peacefully. While denouncing expansion in public, Mangum and the
Whigs fashioned compromises that included provisions for expansion. '1
Weary from months of fruitless argument, the senate agreed to conclude the
Oregon debate in April 1846. With no settlement in sight, a frustrated Mangum delivered
his last comments on the subject on April 9. "The mismanagement of the case," he
scolded, "had resulted from making it a party question." "The error was at the Baltimore
convention," he candidly admitted in undemocratic tones. "That was the first instance in
the history of the country in which a popular assemblage took in hand the management of
the foreign relations of the country." With these words Mangum reiterated his long-held.
Whiggish suspicion of the vox populi. Policy should be left to policy makers, he believed.
The people should vote for their leaders and nothing else. Expressly worded platforms and
31
Sellers, James K. Polk. Contmentalist. p. 388; Pletcher, The Diplomacy of
1, p. 345; Ley, "Expansionists All?", p. 76.

358
other referenda were dangerous in the hands of an electorate easily swayed by jingoistic
rhetoric. His suspicions placed him in the mainstream of nineteenth-century Whiggery.'2
On June 18, 1846. the senate approved a treaty dividing Oregon along the forty-
ninth parallel. President Polk had had to retreat from his hard-line stand and seek
conciliation because he had another foreign crisis on his hands: war with Mexico. Rather
than risk a second, he ended his holdout and compromised. Willie Mangum and almost
every other southern Whig voted for the treaty. Pragmatism had won out over principle.
Despite their opposition to expansion, they knew that the settlement on the table was the
best they could expect. Instead of blocking it, they held their noses and voted yea. "I
thank God that war with England has been averted.” Mangum wrote his wife Charity four
days after the vote. He could not say the same about Mexico. '''
The Whig’s eagerness to conclude the treaty with Great Britain w'as motivated in
part by the fact that the country was at war with Mexico. Hostilities between the two
republics had been brewing ever since the United States began annexation talks with
Texas. Mexico never recognized Lone Star independence and refused to acknowledge
U.S. sovereignty after annexation. The Mexican government severed diplomatic relations
with the United States after annexation, a time when a lingering border dispute necessitated
increased dialogue between the two states. The United States claimed the Rio Grande as
32 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 1st sess., p. 635.
33 Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:452; See also. Paul Varg,
United States Foreign Relations. 1820-1860 (East Lansing: Michigan State University
Press, 1979), pp. 165-66; Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 81-83.

359
the southern boundary of Texas; Mexico insisted that the Nueces, a river further north of
the Rio Grande, marked the traditional boundary of Texas. Dreams of "manifest destiny”
further complicated matters. Polk and his fellow expansionists coveted the rich farmland
and choice harbors of California. In 1845 the president sent John Slidell to Mexico City —
a mission Mangum opposed — with instructions to settle the boundary dispute for cash
payments of 5 million dollars and to offer Mexico 25 million dollars for the northern
province. He also sent agents into California itself to foment a rebellion in case Slidell's
mission failed. By April 1846 the president had become convinced that a peaceful
resolution was unlikely and so prepared to take the northern third of Mexico by force.'4
The likelihood of a violent confrontation between Mexico and the United States
greatly increased after both governments sent armies into the disputed area between the
two rivers. It came on April 25, 1846, when an American patrol traded fire with Mexican
troops along the banks of the Rio Grande. The engagement left several American soldiers
dead and a president ready to unleash the dogs of war. On May 11. 1846, Polk told
congress, including an incredulous Whig minority, that "American blood had been shed
on American soil” and asked for a declaration of war. The Whigs hesitated, not because
they opposed retaliation, but because they were troubled by the preamble. It stated the
United States was already at war and all congress needed to do was to affirm this. While
many Whigs agreed to fight to safeguard the nation's "honor and dignity," as Mangum put
34 Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 85-87; United States Congress, Senate, Journal of
the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, vol. 7, pp. 9,
36; Dalzell, Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, pp. 113-14.

360
it, they challenged Polk's authority to present the war message as a fait accompli. Some
also questioned the suspicious circumstances that led to the first shots, quietly suggesting
that Polk had provoked the war to take California. But they kept such misgivings to
themselves for fear they might suffer the same fate that befell Federalists who had opposed
the War of 1812. Instead, the Whigs would offer only token opposition to the war.
placing roadblocks in the way of the president whenever he spoke of taking territory,
focusing on fine points of constitutional law. They never openly questioned the legitimacy
of the war itself. Thus the Whigs outlined a strategy they would follow for the duration
of the conflict.35
From the start Willie Mangum proved himself the Whig's most eloquent and
persistent spokesman, setting the tone on the very day Polk delivered his war message.
Careful not to stand in the way of a popular war. Mangum voted with the majority but
joined with several other Whigs to protest the preamble. He made no effort to block
passage of the Democratic measure, which passed overwhelmingly. Upon returning to his
rooms that evening, Mangum wrote of his disappointment with Polk. "I know not what
ought to be done with the administration," he wrote angrily, "they deserve any & all sorts
of punishment." The president, Mangum confided to his wife, acted recklessly and
35 Quote from, United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 1st
sess., p. 796; Ley, "Expansionists All?", p. 88; Schroeder. Mr. Polk's War, pp. x, xiv,
3, 26; Cooper, The South and the Politics of Slavery, p. 227; Pletcher. The Diplomacy
of Annexation, p. 391; Joseph Carlyle Sitterson, The Secession Movement in North
Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939), pp. 36-37; Sellers,
James K. Polk. Continentalist. p. 364; Marc W. Kruman. Parties and Politics in North
Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. 1983), pp. 112-13.

361
without regard to the national security. With the Oregon issue still pending, he feared the
United States might soon find itself fighting on two fronts. So disturbed was he by the
events of that day that he contemplated leaving Washington at the end of the term never
to return/6
In the weeks and months following the outbreak of war the Whig Party searched
for a position. A small group of northern Whigs satisfied their collective consciences by
opposing the war openly as a violation of the territorial integrity of a "sister republic."
As a leader of his party, Willie Mangum could not afford this luxury. To keep his party
intact he had to set aside some of his principles. As Whig backbenchers attacked the war
without regard to public opinion. Whig leaders huddled in cloakrooms to devise a safe way
of taking on the administration. In mid-May Mangum hit on a solution. On the 22nd and
again on the 25th and 26th he rose to challenge appropriations bills: The first authorized
Polk to oversee the production of ten warships, while the second empowered him to
commission officers. In both instances Mangum differentiated between opposing the
president and opposing the war. Conceding the desirability of good ships and qualified
officers, he refused to expand the discretionary powers of the president to get them.
Combining the traditional Whig fears of presidential tyranny with a suspicion that Polk
would use war measures such as these to extend the reach of his patronage, Mangum
argued for both principle and pragmatism. As junior members of his party stumbled
36 Quote from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:435; See also, Niles
National Register. 23 May 1846; United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 30th
Cong., 1st sess., p. 350; Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 88-90; Schroeder, Mr, Polk's
War, pp. 17, 28; Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation, pp. 387-92.

362
through the first months of the war without common sense, the seasoned parliamentarian
showed them the way to qualified resistance. 7
The following month brought with it a relaxation of tensions in both Washington
and within the Whig Party. In June Mangum joined leaders from both parties to propose
sending a bipartisan commission to Mexico to negotiate a peace accord. The plan came
to naught, but the attempt showed a willingness for congressional leaders to work
together.38 Mangum himself continued to promise his full support both publicly and
privately. "We must . . . one & all fight it out," he wrote his wife. With the anxiety of
that first day behind him, Mangum jokingly asked her if their eight-year-old son had
joined the tens of thousands of southerners who had volunteered to fight in the frenzy of
patriotism.39 His moderation won admiration from some and unsolicited advice from
others. "You must appropriate the necessary funds to carry out the war," James Mower
wrote his friend. With public opinion and the administration so deeply committed to the
war, the New Yorker posed, "is it not better to jump into the stream & help direct it" than
to swim against it? Mower was preaching to the choir, for Mangum had been steering this
37 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 850,
857, 865-66; Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, pp. xiv, 26-27. 29, 32. 161-63; Larry Keith
Menna, "Embattled Conservatism: The Ideology of the Southern Whigs," (Ph. D.
dissertation, Columbia University, 1991), pp. 252-54.
38 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:453-54.
39
Ibid., 4:452.

363
course all along. Indeed, Mower's comments only reinforced Mangum’s belief he was
doing what was popular with rank and file Whigs/'
Congress' efforts to tackle routine matters suggest that Mangum was not the only
one ready to return to normalcy. With the war in Mexico safely in the hands of soldiers.
Democratic politicians in Washington turned their attention to reducing the tariff, a move
that struck at the heart of the Whig fiscal agenda. On July 28, 1846 the senate passed the
Walker Tariff, which lowered rates on most imports. The Whigs banded together in
opposition, falling two votes shy of defeating it. Mangum voted with the minority, as
much concerned with appeasing his northern, high-tariff allies as he was with protecting
American industry. Party cohesion, evidenced by the votes on the Walker Tariff as well
as by votes on the Independent Treasury Bill, the Public Warehouse Act, and various
internal improvement bills, was high. Mangum voted with the Whigs every time, his
partisanship as clear as that of any of his colleagues. Occasionally Mangum set aside party
considerations and advocated bipartisanship, as when he co-sponsored a joint resolution
authorizing the construction of the Washington monument. More often, however, he
voted the straight party line.41
40 Ibid., 4:525.
41 Holt, "Winding Roads to Recovery," pp. 144-45; Henry M. Wagstaff, State Rights
and Political Parties in North Carolina. 1776-1861 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press,
1906), p. 76; Joel H. Silbey, The Partisan Imperative: The Dynamics of American Politics
before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 37, 39; Joel H.
Silbey, The Shrine of Party: Congressional Voting Behavior. 1841-1852 (Pittsburgh:
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1967), pp. 154-208; United States Congress, The
Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 1st sess., pp. 1162.

364
While managing the political economy remained an important part of Mangum's
job, he could not long ignore the war and the divisions it threatened. On August 8, 1846,
it reclaimed his full attention when Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania attached
a proviso to a two-million-dollar military appropriations bill. The rider said that slavery
was to be prohibited from all territories captured from Mexico. Wilmot had moved the
slavery issue, which had always smoldered beneath the surface of the debates about the
war, to the fore. He also unwittingly brought northern and southern Whigs closer
together. Southern Whigs had struggled to keep slavery out of politics for fear it would
wreck the party. This is why they had opposed the annexation of Texas: New territory
meant new questions about slavery. The Whigs were thankful it was a Democrat who had
opened Pandora's Box, and it would be the Democrats who would now suffer the mischief
slavery promised to bring to politics.42
The debate over the Wilmot Proviso lasted longer than the war itself. Initially,
Whigs, both northern and southern, held to the party line. Southern leaders thought it best
to keep quiet on the matter so as not to raise the ire of their northern friends. The
southern rank and file showed less reserve, voicing dissatisfaction with what they saw as
capitulations to northern antislavery Whigs.4' Mangum responded by down playing the
42 Eric Foner, "The Wilmot Proviso Revisited," Journal of American History 56
(1969):274, 278; Menna, "Embattled Conservatism," pp. 248-49; Ley, "Expansionists
All?", p. 98; Dalzell, Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, pp. 123-24;
Schroeder, Mr, Polk's War, pp. 43-45.
43 Silbey, The Shrine of Party, p. 143; Kruman, Parties and Politics in North Carolina,
pp. 113-16; Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina, p. 78; Cole,
The Whig Party in the South, pp. 123, 137; Cooper, The South and the Politics of

365
significance of Wilmot, adding that the proviso would be moot if the United States acted
honorably and resisted the urge to take territory from Mexico. On July 3. 1848. shortly
after the war had ended, he made clear to his senate colleagues the southern Whig position
on the proviso. "I am a southern man," he said, and as such would defend the rights of
southerners to take their property where they pleased. "But as to this 'Wilmot proviso,'"
he added, "as a practical question, 1 regard it as of exceedingly slight importance."
Slavery, he contended, was not suited to the "bleak and sterile hills and volcanic mountains
of Mexico." so the mere discussion of Wilmot was impractical. He then advised the senate
not to take any territory from Mexico at the conclusion of the war. Why risk destroying
the nation "for lands no man desired?" he asked, closing, "I had rather see New Mexico
and California engulfed by an earthquake, receded to Santa Anna, or held in independence
by its own degenerate population; I had rather see any or all of these than to disturb deeply
the harmony of the Union." Mangum had spoken brilliantly for his southern brethren.
Claiming to be as committed to preserving slavery as any other southerner, he warned that
it was neither the time nor the place to fight. Moderation, conservatism, pragmatism, had
been his watchwords all his career. Now with his party walking the tightrope on slavery,
these ideals served him well.44
The very issuance of the Wilmot proviso suggested that the Democrats intended to
make the Mexican War an instrument of conquest. It had also given the Whigs another
Slavery, p. 240.
44 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:677-68.

366
means of opposing the administration without coming out against the war. With the Fall
elections approaching. Whigs began defining themselves as the party of a reasonable and
just peace. They agreed to pursue the war with vigor, but once it was finished would ask
nothing of the Mexicans. They portrayed their opponents as imperialists out to conquer
a sister republic, take her territory, and with it a large population of undesirable people
and host of new problems, the most troublesome of which was slavery. These were the
issues on which the Whigs would run the off-year elections of 1846.4S
The campaign season found Willie Mangum busily drumming up support for Whig
candidates from all over his home state. Party workers came to him with requests for
documents, speeches, and other material. As always the senator was quick to oblige. The
ideological harmony pervading the Tar Heel Whigs made the job easy. Old regional
divisions had faded, as mountain Whigs, eastern shore Whigs, and piedmont Whigs
worked in common cause against the Democrats. As in previous races, local Whigs ran
on national issues, the war being the most immediate. As the August elections drew near
Mangum’s mail sack grew larger. Allies from as far off as Florida and Pennsylvania
reached out to him for advice and favors. Sensing victory, Mangum doubled his efforts.
When the August elections came he received his reward. The Whigs had shored up their
45 Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation, p. 469; Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, p.
160.

367
hold on the North Carolina General Assembly and were poised to increase their numbers
in Washington.46
Mangum benefitted personally from the Whig triumph that August. The first order
of business facing the newly-elected assemblymen gathering in Raleigh in the Fall of 1846
was the selection of their United States Senators. The popular and powerful Willie Person
Mangum was the first choice of the Whig majority. Whether the senior senator wanted
to remain in office, however, was uncertain. In August and September he had expressed
his growing impatience with the partisan bickering and prolonged sessions. Approaching
his mid-fifties, he thought it was time to step down and let a younger, more energetic
generation take charge. Flowever, Whig victories in his state and elsewhere lifted
Mangum's sagging spirits and convinced him to seek another term. Reelection was never
in doubt, as North Carolina's Whigs gladly returned their favorite to the senate. They also
elected George Badger to fill the unexpired term left by the resignation of Democrat
Senator William Haywood and gerrymandered the state to insure their continued hold on
Raleigh.47
46 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:316-17. 329-30. 333-34. 377, 395,
410-11, 411-12, 428-29, 438, 440, 459-60, 466-67. 477, 479-81; Harry L. Watson,
Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict: The Emergence of the Second Party System
in Cumberland County North Carolina (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
1981), pp. 288-89.
47 Clarence C. Norton, The Democratic Party in Ante-Bellum North Carolina. 1835-
1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1930), p. 147; Brian G. Walton,
"Elections to the United States Senate in North Carolina. 1835-1861," North Carolina
Historical Review 53 (1976): 181. 185, 191; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum.
4:329-30, 476-79; 496; Niles National Register. 28 November 1846; Marc W. Kruman,
"Thomas L. Clingman and the Whig Party: A Reconsideration." North Carolina Historical

368
"Your friends in [New York] (and let me say there are many) are highly gratified
& rejoice that you will come back to the Senate." The feelings of Utica attorney John
Hogan were shared by loyal Whigs throughout the nation.41' Even the once frustrated
Mangum expressed optimism as he readied himself for the next session and beyond. News
of Whig gains in Missouri, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania further convinced
him that if his party steered a safe course over the next two years they would recapture the
White House. It was in this mood that Mangum set off for Washington in December
1846.49
Emboldened by a majority in the lower house, the Whigs renewed their attack on
their opponents for their conduct of the war. On January 11, 1847, a representative from
the Committee on Military Affairs reported a bill to appoint a Lieutenant General who
would have oversight of all military operations in Mexico. The senate debated the
measure for two days, during which George Badger spoke in opposition. When he
finished, Mangum rose to compliment his new colleague and then moved that the bill be
tabled. When another senator called for a test question, Mangum agreed. The Whigs
Review 64 (1979):7; Ruth Blackwelder, The Age of Orange: Political and Intellectual
Leadership in North Carolina. 1752-1861 (Charlotte: William Loftin, Publisher, 1961),
p. 107; Max R. Williams, "The Foundations of the Whig Party in North Carolina: A
Synthesis and a Modest Proposal," North Carolina Historical Review 47 (1970): 128.
48 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:492.
49 Ibid., 4:514.

369
carried the vote and the bill was tabled. Later that month Mangum voted twice to
withhold military appropriates and resisted Democratic efforts to raise additional troops.50
Mangum's opposition to the Lieutenant General Bill was based as much on
parsimony as it was on partisanship. He told William Graham that the war was morally
and financially bankrupting the nation and worried that continued spending, along with
Democratic efforts to whip the public into an anti-Mexican frenzy, would lead the nation
to ruin.51 Nevertheless, he did not want the Whigs to be seen as anything but patriotic.
If he made them look loyal in the eyes of the public while taking swipes at Polk, so much
the better. The opportunity came on January 26 when Mangum spoke on the subject of
using treasury notes to finance the war. "When the country was engaged in war," he
averred, "whatever the blunders - whatever the want of foresight - whatever the lack of
wisdom which had placed the country in that position - it was still the country’s war. and
we must stand or fall by the country." He was still angry about the accusations of
disloyalty Polk had leveled against the Whigs two months earlier. Although Mangum had
been working privately with Polk's allies to keep the troops in Mexico properly outfitted,
the president continued to slander his party for political gain. This outraged Mangum.52
50 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 2nd sess., pp. 165,
184-87, 278, 279.
51 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:10.
52Niles National Register. 6 February 1847; Shanks. The Papers of Willie P.
Mangum. 5:38-39; Ley, "Expansionists All?”, p. 115.

370
In February 1847 Polk presented Mangum with another chance to criticize his
handling of the war. With Mexico still unwilling to capitulate to the peace terms dictated
by him, the president decided to carry the war deeper into their territory and move on the
capital city. To do this, however, he needed money from a congress that had recently
voted down a request for two million dollars. Undaunted. Polk went back to the senate
and asked for three million. Mangum used the opportunity to explain the Whig position.
"The object of the president," he began, "now seemed to be pretty clearly intimated to be
the purchase of California and New Mexico." He indicted that the Whigs would not
support such a war. Instead, he told his opponents that he was "unwilling to see Mexico
dismembered" and "unwilling to acquire, at the edge of the sword, or the point of a
bayonet, a single square inch of territory."5' While some southern Whigs wanted to annex
the Port of San Francisco, most agreed with Mangum that "no territory" was the best way
to avoid the divisive issue raised by David Wilmot. In February 1847. Mangum was not
trying to settle longstanding moral and political questions raised by slavery. He was
interested only in advancing the cause of his party and "no territory" seemed the best way
to do it. Mangum would continue to sidestep the slavery issue as long as it was an
abstraction. A pragmatist, he responded to controversy by avoiding the problem or
delaying all decisions in the hope that it would go away.'4
5" United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 29th Cong., 2nd sess., p. 309.
54 Ley, "Expansionists All?", pp. 113, 122-24, 134, 145; Holt, "Winding Roads to
Recovery," p. 159; Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation, p. 551; Schroeder, Mr.
Polk's War, pp. 160-61; Joseph G. Rayback, Free Soil: The Election of 1848 (Lexington:
The University of Kentucky Press, 1970), pp. 122-23; Thomas Brown, Politics and

371
Mangum's caution was shared by most Whigs. Among their presidential hopefuls,
only Thomas Corwin of Ohio made antiwar statements in public, and this probably
eliminated him from contention in 1848. The conservative leadership of the party,
including Mangum, Crittenden, and Clayton, spent most of 1847 distancing themselves
from Corwin. While they privately admired his courage, none would publicly take his
side. In fact, the Whigs seemed to be moving closer to the Democrats. In December 1847
Mangum pledged his party's continued support for the war. Substantial gains in the
November elections portended good things for the next presidential election and he was
not going to say or do anything to reverse the trend. Indeed, in January 1848 Mangum
began to quietly advocate a peace treaty that violated his pledge of "no territory."55
This is not to suggest that the Whigs let Polk carry on the war without opposition.
By the winter of 1847-48 the public had grown frustrated with the war and the Whigs
knew it. They kept up their public attacks on the president, but chose their battles
carefully, dishing out criticism in measured doses. When the president proposed sending
ten additional regiments to Mexico, however, the Whigs lashed out furiously. Mangum
again led the senate opposition. On January 3, 1848 he spoke against Polk's "Ten
Regiment" Bill and demanded from the administration a full disclosure of its objectives.
Mangum and his allies feared that Polk had come under the influence of extremists in his
party who were demanding the annexation of all of Mexico. For the next two months
Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1975), p. 205.
55 Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, pp. 80-82; Niles National Register. 1 January 1848.

372
Mangum sparred with the Democrats, led by Polk favorite Thomas Hart Benton of
Missouri. At first the Democrats disavowed the rumors. On January 20. Mangum offered
a resolution to the senate requiring General Winfield Scott, commander of the army in
central Mexico, to reveal to the senate Polk’s instructions to him dated December 16,
1847. Mangum expected to find evidence of Polk's intention to take all of Mexico in this
communique. At this point Benton stood and asked Mangum what exactly he thought he
would find in these orders, for he believed Scott's mission clear: to conquer Mexico.
Mangum replied, "To conquer Mexico?" "1 repeat," Benton answered, "to conquer
Mexico." Several Whigs then shouted "the whole?," to which Benton said, "the whole,
but not to hold it all." The North Carolinian then wondered aloud if this meant the
annihilation of Mexico.56
Polk's point man in the senate had confirmed what many Whigs suspected, and
Benton's reassurances notwithstanding the Democrat's objectives seemed incontrovertible.
Now a compromise had to be worked out. With American troops occupying Mexico City,
the Whigs were in a poor bargaining position. The nation would gain territory, of this
Mangum was certain. It remained for him to negotiate an agreement with Polk to limit
the size of that territory. This would allow the Whigs to save face and prevent the United
States from bringing in too many people most Whigs regarded as inferior. Mangum also
feared that the voters were turning against the Whig agenda. "Public sentiment ... is
56 All quotes from. United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 30th Cong., 1st
sess., pp. 214-15; See also, ibid, pp. 86-92, 171, 183; Holt, "Winding Roads to
Recovery," p. 144; Niles National Register 15. 22 January 1848; Ley, "Expansionists
All?", pp. 135-36; Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, p. 161

373
becoming deeply debauched in references to the war & its consequences." he wrote David
Swain. "He who should go for the whole of Mexico." Mangum predicted, "will be the
next president." The senator feared that prolonging the war meant the Whigs would lose
the peace.57
On February 23, 1848, as the full senate debated the Ten Regiment Bill, the
Foreign Relations Committee began their review of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. As
one of the two Whigs on the elite committee, Mangum witnessed immediately the row
created by the controversial document. The two extremes tried to tailor it more to their
liking. Benton thought the size of the Mexican cession too small; Daniel Webster, the
second Whig on the committee, thought it too large. Both opposed ratification to the end.
Initially Mangum worked with Webster, but when he saw their cause was lost he agreed
to compromise. Webster would not see it that way. So it fell to Mangum to convince the
moderates in his party that Polk's treaty was the least objectionable. While "no territory"
was a firm principle for Webster, it was merely a starting point for Mangum.58
In March the full senate reviewed the committee reports and began their debate.
Again, the two extremes clashed. On March 6. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi proposed
taking more of Mexico than the treaty allowed. Two days later George Badger countered
that the United States refuse all territory. In the end Mangum's moderation won over
57 Quote taken from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:91; See also. Ley,
"Expansionists All?", pp. 135, 145.
58 Ley, "Expansionists All?", p. 150; Pletcher, The Diplomacy of Annexation, p. 562;
Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, p. 158.

374
enough Whigs to secure ratification. The brief debate witnessed a temporary alliance
between Mangum and Polk, with the latter coming away from the experience impressed
with the former. He found Mangum "manly in his opposition" and believed him to be a
gentleman with whom he could work. For Polk, a man as rabidly partisan as any man in
Washington, this was high praise. Mangum may have been less impressed with himself.
He found the treaty distasteful and voted for it only because he believed it was the best he
could hope for. While he may have liked Polk personally, he believed his war to be
unjust, unconstitutional, and unnecessary.5y
During the Mexican War Mangum showed both his worst and his best sides.
Pragmatism and a fear of alienating voters left him and his party impotent in the face of
a determined administration. Instead of offering an alternative to the war, Mangum and
the Whigs roared and bellowed, only to submit to the will of their enemies. In the end,
Polk got nearly everything he asked for. And yet the Mexican War also demonstrated that
Willie Mangum was an effective politician. Understanding that he needed to hold his party
together long enough to recapture the presidency. Mangum avoided mistakes that might
have proved fatal. To that end he supported a limited war and redefined unionism in
Whiggish terms: Expansion was unrepublican and threatened the union. The Whig Party,
5g Quote from, Quaife, The Diary of James K, Polk. 3:364-66, 81-82. See also. David
M. Potter, The Impending Crisis. 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976). pp. 5-6;
New York Herald. 9 March 1848; Ley, "Expansionists All?", p. 151; Pletcher, The
Diplomacy of Annexation, p. 563; Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, p. 164; Paul H. Bergeron,
The Presidency of James K. Polk (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1987), p.212;
Brown, Politics and Statesmanship, p. 205; Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in
North Carolina, p. 79.

375
with Mangum at the helm, retained an identity unique from the aggressive Democrats. It
claimed to represent the loyal opposition, and proved this by forcing debates on all
appropriations bills and trying to impose limits on presidential authority. Neither saint nor
sinner, Mangum only acted in the best interest of his party. In his mind, this was
synonymous with acting in the best interest of his country."11
With the war safely behind them, the Whigs turned their full attention to the
presidential election. The party elite had been planning for this campaign ever since their
defeat in 1844 and had. by January 1846, reached an important conclusion about their next
standard-bearer. A few’ days after the New Year celebrations had ended, Mangum,
Clayton, and Crittenden summoned key members of their party to a dinner to discuss their
options for the 1848 contest. Before the night was through, the three kingmakers had
convinced their guests that their friend Henry Clay, a three-time loser in the presidential
sweepstakes, had become a drag on the party and needed to be dumped. Over the course
of the campaign party operatives from every part of the country would confirm their belief
that Clay was "unavailable," meaning he could not win. Clay knew his friends Crittenden
and Mangum had been motivated by politics, not personalities, and so held no grudge.
Indeed, he kept in close contact with Mangum throughout the race. Privately the North
60 Menna, "Embattled Conservatism," pp. 247-48; Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War, pp. 5,
20, 163.

376
Carolinian admitted that his friend Clay was the best man for the job. However, practical
politics dictated that he be sacrificed for the good of tiie party.61
Having ruled out Clay, the Whig triumvirate had to choose an alternative. At the
January 1846 summit the three men speculated that General Winfield Scott and Senator
Thomas Corwin might make a good ticket. During the war Scott's battlefield glories
helped raise his stock, while Corwin’s fell because of his opposition. Zachary Taylor,
another general building a reputation in Mexico, found himself also being considered.
John Crittenden proved his strongest advocate, primarily because he thought as a
southerner Taylor would attract those southern Whigs who were beginning to think that
the party was controlled by antislavery Whigs. Mangum showed less enthusiasm for
Taylor. He thought the general a political lightweight and doubted his Whig credentials.
Besides, Mangum coveted the 1848 vice-presidential nomination for himself and knew that
if the convention nominated a southerner to run for the presidency his bid for the second
spot would be dashed.62
61 Frederick W. Seward, ed.. Autobiography of William H, Seward. From 1801 to
1834, With A Memoir of his Life, and Selections from His Letters from 1831 to 1846
(New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1877), pp. 772-73; Shanks. The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 4:500; 5:98, 104-105, 515-17.
62 Holman Hamilton, "Election of 1848," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel,
and William P. Hansen, eds.. History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968, 4
vols. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 1:873: Shanks, The Papers of Willie
P. Mangum. 5:105; Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President
(Buffalo: The Buffalo Historical Society, 1959), pp. 175-76: Hamilton and Wagstaff, The
Papers of William Alexander Graham. 3:107, 229.

377
In 1848, Willie Mangum had a realistic chance of winning a spot on the national
ticket and for the first time he seemed prepared to run. His friends knew it, his associates
knew it, and a growing legion of supporters from all across the country knew it. They
encouraged his ambition by sending him newspaper clippings from Philadelphia, from
Nashville, from Baltimore, from small towns in every region, all telling of his popularity
and appeal. Some of his backers thought him presidential timber and sounded their
opinions in the press and to Mangum personally. Nicholas Carroll of New York
repeatedly assured Mangum that his chances of emerging from the pack of Whig
presidential contenders were very good. He informed Mangum that he was hatching a plan
to get the New York delegation to present Mangum as a compromise candidate to what he
assumed would be a deadlocked convention. Another New Yorker, George Collins,
pressed Mangum to make a bid for the nomination, assuring Mangum he had strong
support in both his state and Pennsylvania. Representative Thomas Clingman of North
Carolina similarly urged him to take advantage of all the attention and respect his fellow
Whigs were showering upon him. Clingman thought Mangum should sell himself as a
favorite son of the South capable of attracting northern voters. All three men regarded
Mangum as the logical successor to Henry Clay, whom each thought tainted by failure and
so "unavailable" in 1848T3
63 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 4:412-13, 282-84, 455-56, 476-79; The
American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics. Literature. Art, and Science (New York:
Wiley Putnam, 1845-1850), 73:126; Philadelphia North American. 8 July 1846; Nashville
Republican-Banner. 16 October 1846.

378
Most observers thought Mangum was more likely to take the second place on a
national ticket or accept a cabinet post in the next Whig administration than he was to be
nominated president. Several New York businessmen wrote regularly to urge this course.
Like many of his supporters, they usually spoke of Mangum as a potential running mate
of either General Winfield Scott or Supreme Court Justice John McLean, both northerners,
both moderates. Given his southern roots and his habit for avoiding controversy, Mangum
would have been an asset for either man. He liked them both and worked closely with
McLean in 1846 and 1847 when the Ohioan was testing the political waters in preparation
for a run at the White House. Scott and Mangum shared a long friendship. The senator
admired Scott's military record, shared his political views, and enjoyed beating him at
whist. During the war, Mangum worked with other Whigs to advance Scott's candidacy,
while simultaneously helping McLean with his own. In the summer of 1846 he hinted that
the North Carolina legislature might endorse him during their Fall session. That
December the two men met to discuss the election. At the conclave Mangum presented
McLean with an analysis of how each of the potential Whig nominees would do in every
state, ending with assurances that his chances were better than most. McLean relied
heavily on Mangum for this kind of advice and expected to reward him with a place on the
ticket. "I sink or swim with you," he confided to Mangum in January 1847. Mangum had
covered all his bases. If the Whigs decided to run a military man, he would be identified
with Scott; if they wanted a moderate politician, he could stress his ties to McLean.'’4
64 Quote taken from, ibid., 5:23; see also, ibid., 4:417-18, 422-23, 469, 480, 494,
501, 523; 5:4, 6-7, 19, 22, 42, 57-59, 82, 85, 516-17; Rayback, Free Soil, pp. 3-4, 8;

379
In the age of pragmatism, fence-sitting was well within the bounds of accepted
behavior. Mangum's friends did not object to his being all things to all men. Indeed, it
was this political virtue that had enabled him to get so far in national politics. But a Whig
from North Carolina could only climb so high. Safely Whig and unquestionably southern.
North Carolina was never a doubtful state; a swing state that could turn an election in their
favor. Therefore, party leaders were reluctant to place a Tar Heel on the national ticket.
Late in life Mangum told family members that he would have gotten his party's
nomination had he been from Tennessee, a border state that produced two presidents.'15
Mangum may have had a point, but he was deluding himself if he thought his place of
residence was the only thing keeping him from the pinnacle of American politics.
Members of the party, including some of his friends, spoke of problems that had nothing
to do with his fence-sitting or where he lived. They whispered in cloakrooms and drawing
rooms that he had "become a slave to the tempting cup."hn Early in life, Mangum's
fondness for alcohol was an asset. A much sought after dinner guest, he used these affairs
to ingratiate himself to the most powerful members of Congress until he became one
himself. By the 1840s, however, his friends thought he was drinking too much. Social
Francis P. Weisenburger, The Life of John McLean: A Politician on the United States
Supreme Court (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1937; reprint ed.. New
York: Da Capo Press, 1971), pp. 105-107. 111-12; Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers
of William Alexander Graham, 3:229.
65 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:754.
66 Nathan Sargent, Public Men and Events: From the Commencement of Mr, Monroe's
Administration, in 1817, to the Close of Mr, Fillmore's Administration, in 1853, 2 vols.,
(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1875). 1:211.

380
drinking was expected of southern gentlemen; excessive drinking, on the other hand, was
frowned upon. It caused a person to lose control and with the loss of control came a loss
of honor. This Mangum did with alarming frequency. His associates now began to
question his fitness and wondered if he could be trusted with the presidency. Had he come
from Tennessee Mangum may have been nominated for the highest office. However, he
would have had to have been as careful about his drinking as its two favorite sons —
Andrew Jackson and James Polk — had been.67
Mangum was not the only Whig leader with deeply rooted political liabilities.
Party stalwart Daniel Webster continued to have problems attracting voters outside New
England. Up and comer Thomas Corwin had talked his way out of the nomination with
his unpopular antiwar rhetoric. Despite his sinking reputation, Corwin still insisted,
through his friends, that he be considered for the ticket. Mangum and Crittenden promised
the other Ohioan in contention, John McLean, that they could silence Corwin if he
continued to disrupt the process. As much as Corwin's fortunes declined during the w'ar,
Zachary Taylor's rose. "Taylor fever," as political observers liked to say, had taken hold
of the party and showed no sign of letting go. The General's early support came from the
self-proclaimed "young Indians" within the party led by John Crittenden and Truman
Smith of Connecticut. While very popular with voters, especially after his victory at the
Hamilton and Wagstaff, The Papers of William Alexander Graham. 3:407.
67

381
Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847, Taylor troubled political professionals like Willie
Mangum because he was silent on the major issues of the day.6*
Perhaps most disconcerting was Taylor's repeated antiparty assertions. While the
Whigs had made political capital on this claim ten years earlier, and while many rank and
File Whigs still insisted on proclaiming their aversion to parties, Mangum and most other
leaders thought that the notion passe and that Taylor had been disingenuous for
resurrecting it. "Taylor must avow himself a Whig" if he wants the nomination, Mangum
wrote William Graham in January 1848. He knew the Whigs had to counter the
expansionists in the Democratic Party by nominating a military hero but insisted that they
delay their decision until they knew where each one stood. As of January 1848, Mangum
went on, Scott was the better man and, more significantly, the better Whig. "If we must
go to the army for a candidate & . . . take one from the battlefields reeking with blood,
1 infinitely prefer Scott." Anticipating Taylor’s eventual nomination, Mangum closed by
insisting Graham burn the letter after reading it.69
With so many influential Whigs backing Taylor, Mangum could not afford to
dismiss him so quickly. Instead, he offered him a chance to define himself as a Whig.
Joining with Clayton, Crittenden, and Charles Morehead of Kentucky, Mangum helped
to draft a blueprint of the Whig program, presented it to Taylor, and asked him to
68 Dalzell, Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, p. 125; Kirwan,
John J. Crittenden, pp. 206-207; Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:65-68, 73-
77, 77-79, 81-84, 91; Holt, "Winding Roads to Recovery," p. 127.
69 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:93-96.

382
respond. What Taylor replied remains unknown. However, in April 1848 he issued the
so-called Allison letter in which he declared himself "a Whig, but not an ultra-Whig."
While this satisfied some who were troubled by his antiparty antics, it did not fully mollify
Mangum.70 In May 1848, with the national convention just one month off, Mangum
remained committed to Scott and unsure of Taylor. "If we have to march a President into
the White House with fife & drum, I prefer the abler man, & one who is not only a Whig,
but who will respect the usages & become the exponent of the principles of the Party."
Taylor, he feared, was not that man. Yet Mangum knew he was in the minority, that the
convention would name Taylor.71
In June 1848 the national party convention proved Mangum correct by nominating
Taylor. He had a strong lead on the first ballot and finally secured the nomination on the
fourth. After that, the Philadelphia convention produced few fireworks. With a
southerner at the top of the ticket Mangum had no realistic hope of being picked as the
vice presidential nominee. Instead, the convention asked Millard Fillmore of New York
to counterbalance the slaveholding Taylor. The assembly produced no platform, only an
enigmatic candidate with a crystal clear war record. While Taylor was not the first choice
of the North Carolina delegation, which remained stubbornly loyal to Clay during the
balloting, he was acceptable because he was a southerner. They knew he would be an easy
711 Ibid., 5:98; Holman Hamilton, "Election of 1848," 1:869.
71 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:104-105.

383
sell to southern voters. Fillmore, on the other hand, was alleged to have ties with
abolitionists in his home state and would prove to be Taylor's albatross in the south.72
One month before their convention, the Whigs' chief rivals, the Democrats,
nominated Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan for the presidency and an aging veteran of
both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, General William O. Butler of Kentucky, for
the vice presidency. While they remained silent on the issue of slavery in the territories,
the Democrats believed that Cass's advocacy of "squatter sovereignty" would satisfy both
wings of the party. Cass argued that people living within a given territory should decide
for themselves whether or not to sanction slavery within its borders. Congressional Whigs
had similarly side-stepped this issue by insisting that the Supreme Court should decide the
question. With the most troublesome issue of the day safely in the background, the two
major parties could carry on the type of issue-free campaign that had defined presidential
politics in the second system since the days of the log cabin and hard cider.7’
Unfortunately for the two major parties, a vocal minority of voters were beginning
to demand that the federal government deal with slavery and other issues long avoided by
the Democrats and Whigs. Traditionally antislavery had been associated with abolitionists,
a small band of zealots calling for an immediate end to the institution wherever it existed.
A fringe movement even in the north, abolitionism was universally denounced in the
72 Holman Hamilton, "Election of 1848," 1:866, 869; Kruman, Parties and Politics in
North Carolina, p. 119; Cole, The Whig Party in the South, pp. 128-31; Cooper, The
South and the Politics of Slavery, p. 252.
73 Holman Hamilton, "Election of 1848," 1:866, 869; Cole, The Whig Party in the
South, p. 125.

384
south. In 1848, a more conservative antislavery movement appeared on the national
political stage. The Free-Soil Party, which combined Van Burén Democrats with ex-
Liberty Party loyalists, campaigned on a platform of prohibiting slavery in the territories
but insisted that it remain untouched where it already existed. This promised to broaden
the appeal of the antislavery movement. In August 1848 the Free-Soil convention
nominated Martin Van Burén and Charles Francis Adams as their first and second
candidates.74
A second single-issue party entered presidential politics that election season. The
Native American Party, a collection of xenophobes committed to limiting the rights of
immigrants, set up organizations in several northern states. The Pennsylvania chapter
offered their presidential nomination to Willie Mangum, but like most mainstream
politicians he ignored them. Without Mangum or any other major figure behind them, this
manifestation of political nativism ran aground in 1848. Nevertheless, the emergence of
antislavery and nativist political parties in 1848 portended trouble for the two major
parties, who were seen by frustrated voters as carbon copies of one another, that is as
electoral machines whose only purpose was winning elections and doling out offices. In
many respects these critics were correct.75
In 1848 Mangum understood that antislavery and nativism were not the real
enemies, the Democrats were. Having accepted the dictates of the national convention.
74 Holman Hamilton. "Election of 1848," 1:870-71; Rayback, Free Soil, p. 54.
75 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:62.

385
he campaigned vigorously for Zachary Taylor. While occasionally attacking the Free-
Soilers, Mangum reserved most of his barbs for Cass. On July 3, 1848, in what began as
a speech denouncing expansionists who wanted to take Cuba, Mangum tore into Cass. His
theatrics included props, such as two pamphlets -- one labeled "North," the other "South"
— which he said had been issued by the Democrats. He accused Cass of running one
campaign in the North, where he pledged his support for the Wilmot Proviso, and another
in the South, where he denounced it. He also pointed out the logical fallacies of popular
sovereignty, saying that the people of New Mexico, for example, could not pass laws
without first receiving the authority to do so from Congress. Moreover, he noted, the
people living in this territory were "either black or mixed — in morals scarcely above the
brutes; in intelligence depressed to nearly the lowest point of rational creatures," and
therefore incapable of governing themselves. Cass used popular sovereignty, Mangum
argued, to evade the Free Soil question. The North Carolinian could easily recognize this
talent, for he too had skirted these issues as skillfully as Cass. He did it again during this
speech when he upheld the right of southerners to bring their property into the territories
while conceding that congress could, if it wanted, ban slavery in the territories. He
assured southerners, however, that this would not be done without their consent. The
speech bore all of the trademarks of a Mangum oration, meaning it was bitterly partisan,
replete with dubious assumptions, and exceedingly long.76
76 The quote is taken from, ibid., 5:666. For the entire text see, ibid., 5:658-690.

386
Zachary Taylor, once described by Mangum as unworthy of the Whig nomination,
was now, just a few months later, "the true representative of all the great conservative
characteristics of the Whig Party."77 As such, the general was deserving of all the
resources at Mangum’s disposal. The senator managed the Whig Executive Committee
in Washington, D.C., which distributed pro-Whig literature to anyone who asked. In
September 1848 Taylor helped himself by saying he supported Whig limits on executive
authority. This timeless Whig principle reassured party leaders like Mangum that they
would be able to control Taylor. It also impressed Whig voters who continued to believe
in republican and antiparty ideals.'1''
In November 1848 the voters went to the polls and elected Zachary Taylor their
president. For the third consecutive time North Carolina went to the Whigs and Willie
Mangum deserved much of the credit for that. "1 express my individual thanks to you for
the brilliant & effective services rendered by you in this great struggle for freedom," Hugh
Waddell wrote Mangum the next month. The senator was resting at Walnut Hall when he
received news of Taylor's victory. It was a good time for Willie Mangum. He had held
the party together through a war and through a presidential campaign that could have easily
been disrupted by internal discord. He had cast aside his friends Clay, McLean, and Scott
for a man he did not approve but accepted for the good of the party. The period between
1845 and 1848 show the senior senator from North Carolina at his pragmatic best — as a
77 Ibid., 5:689-90.
78 Ibid., 5:108-109, 112; Holman Hamilton, "Election of 1848," 1:884-85.

387
man of high ambition and flexible principles, a man who recognized that the power in
American politics rested with those who made the kings as much as it rested with the kings
themselves. This is why he could ask Clay, McLean, and Scott to stand aside and let
another sit on the throne, for he knew they would be behind it. Taylor, he believed,
would give them what they deserved, he would give them the spoils of office and he would
support their agenda. If not, they would hold on for another four years and then pick
someone who would.^
7y Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:133.

EPILOGUE
TWILIGHT OF THE PRAGMATISTS
On March 2, 1849, Willie Mangum sat at his desk at the front of the Senate
chamber listening impatiently as two junior members argued about the minor details of an
unimportant bill. Finally, after having endured enough, he rose. "During the last session,
and during the present session," Mangum complained, "the Senate of the United States has
become a mere polemical body. The smallest questions are discussed, as if Senators could
understand nothing without tedious and wearisome debate," and this, he said, was "a
ruinous waste of time."1 He was right, they were talking more than ever, and not only
about things he thought unimportant, but about matters once discussed privately. On
December 18, 1849, for instance, Free-Soil Senator John Hale of New Hampshire objected
to Mangum's request that committee chairs be appointed without a vote. When Mangum
reminded Hale that this was common practice and that the senate needed to move on to
more important business, Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois asked why
Mangum was in such a hurry. Clearly, Mangum did not understand this new generation,
and they did not understand him. The two generations were about to blunder into one
1 United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 30th Cong., 2nd sess., pp. 648-
49.
388

389
another and leave amid the wreckage the second party system, and with it, the political
career of Willie P. Mangum.:
As his political career drew nearer its end Willie Mangum became increasingly
frustrated and tired. His malaise arose partly because Taylor had refused to recognize his
political expertise and importance as a Whig. Like many of Henry Clay’s friends, Willie
Mangum was passed over when Taylor bestowed patronage on the faithful. Worse still,
Mangum could not secure any high-profile positions for his friends. His inability to get
fellow North Carolinian Hugh Waddell an ambassadorship shamed him before his
supporters and demonstrated that the administration preferred the opposing faction. Even
more distressing was the growing influence of Senator William Henry Seward. A New
Yorker with abolitionist sympathies, he would become the power behind the president.
Southern Whigs like Mangum grew increasingly alarmed, fearing that abolitionists were
taking control of the party. He did not like Seward; indeed, he mistrusted most of
Taylor's inner circle. Soon he was disconnected from an administration he had helped
bring to power.3
: Quote from, ibid., 31st Cong., 1st sess., pp. 39-41; See also, ibid., 32nd Cong., 1st
sess., pp. 947, 659, 1606; 32nd Cong., 2nd sess., appendix, p. 132; Mangum's contention
that the senate was talking more than ever is supported by an examination of the
Congressional Globe over an eighteen-year period. During the 23rd Congress, which meet
between 1833 and 1835, the entire record was only 812 pages long, while the 31st
Congress of 1849-1851 produced over 3000 pages of official records.
3 Henry Thomas Shanks, ed.. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5 vols. (Raleigh: State
Department of Archives and History, 1950-1956), 5:136, 143, 149, 151, 155, 159, 166-
68; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House (Indianapolis: The
obbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1951), p. 234; Arthur C. Cole, The Whig Party in the South
(Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1913), pp. 151-52; Norman D.

390
Nevertheless, Mangum continued to work as a leader of his party. With Henry
Clay back in the senate, it may have appeared to him that the upper chamber would
conduct business in its usual fashion. Cabinet officers would enter the senate and walk
directly to Mangum's desk. There they would quietly converse out of the earshot of the
other members. But this style of politics was on the wane. The leaders of the Whig Party
were growing old and less effective as younger and more aggressive politicians began
raising issues once thought taboo. Slavery and temperance, for example, became the
subjects of heated debates. Blind to the changing political climate, Mangum attempted to
silence those who wanted to cast out the timeworn practices and tacit agreements of his
age. When one senator raised the temperance issue, Mangum declared, "I very much
doubt the wisdom of bringing this subject into the arena of party politics." He even tried
to revive the gag rule when another submitted his antislavery petitions to the senate. He
was oblivious to an electorate that had grown so ideological. Knowing well the
divisiveness of issues like slavery, his generation suppressed discussion, evaded tough
decisions, and concentrated on what they thought was achievable without undue fuss and
recrimination.4
Brown, Edward Stanly: Whiggerv's Tarheel "Conqueror" (University: University of
Alabama Press, 1974), pp. 120-21; United States Congress, The Congressional Globe.
31st Cong., 2nd sess., p. 78.
4 Quote taken from. Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:740; See also, ibid.,
203-204; United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 30th Cong., 1st sess., pp.
310-11; ibid., 31st Cong., 1st sess., p. 119; ibid., 32nd Cong., 1st. sess., pp. 1474-75;
Douglas Arthur Ley, "Expansionists All? Southern Senators and American Foreign Policy,
1841-1860" (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990), p. 188.

391
The failed style of one generation and the impatience of the next came together in
the sectional crisis of 1850. Mangum stood in the eye of the storm — where he had been
for nearly thirty years. In 1849 and 1850 the politics of slavery made ordinary political
business nearly impossible. The controversy was primarily linked to the status of the
peculiar institution in the territories taken from Mexico, but such related questions as the
fugitive slave law and the slave trade in the District of Columbia added to the agitation.
Mangum's generation decided to solve the problem with a compromise fashioned behind
closed doors, a style that had long since become habitual. The Senate assembled an ad hoc
"committee of thirteen," which included Henry Clay and Willie Mangum, and instructed
it to settle these issues. The old guard emerged from their deliberations with an omnibus
package that had something to offend everyone. When an unhappy majority rejected the
great compromiser's last effort, Clay abandoned Washington. At that instant a spokesman
for the new generation, Stephen Douglas, took over. He broke the package into its
component parts, formed separate coalitions for each, and pushed them through the senate.
His tactics reflected the politics of the new generation in at least two ways. First, he relied
on sectional blocs to carry each bill. Clay tried to unite conservatives from both parties
and both sections. Second, unlike Clay, Douglas worked openly and with men at all levels
of experience. Clay's committee consisted mainly of the aging leadership cadres of both
parties, many of whom, like Mangum, saw the battle as just another power struggle.5
5 Peter B. Knupfer, The Union as It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional
Compromise. 1787-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), pp.
181-195; Frank H. Hodder, "The Authorship of the Compromise of 1850,” Mississippi
Valley Historical Review 22 (1936):526, 536; Hillsborough Recorder. 1 May 1850;

392
Mangum played an important part in the compromise struggle. In March he
persuaded a hesitant Daniel Webster to take a public stand on the omnibus bill. The result
was Webster's famous "Seventh of March Speech." perhaps the most acclaimed — and
despised — oration of the celebrated orator's career. Mangum also had an important
influence on the events surrounding another of the famous speeches delivered during the
compromise debates. At the conclusion of William Seward's so-called "Higher Law"
speech, Mangum stormed into the Oval Office and demanded that a stunned president
immediately renounce his lieutenant. Mangum left Taylor muttering incoherently, visibly
upset and understandably concerned. Within days Taylor did just as Mangum asked, the
North Carolinian's threat to leave the party and take the southern wing with him apparently
was enough to jar the president. Arm twisting and bullying still served the old senator
well, even at this late date.6
Ironically, these same heavy-handed tactics eventually cost Mangum his career.
On April 15, 1852, he told the senate he intended to back Winfield Scott in that year's
presidential race. Five days later congressional Whigs met to make their choice and Willie
Mangum was there to see that it went his way. As the presiding officer he silenced all
United States Congress, The Congressional Globe. 31st Cong., 1st sess., p. 780; Robert
V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
1991), pp. 746, 757; George Rawlings Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party (Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1936), pp. 221, 225; Shanks, The Papers of
Willie P. Mangum. 5:691-93.
6 Poage, Henry Clay and the Whig Party, pp. 209-210; Harper's New Monthly
Magazine, vol. 47, p. 589; Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union, vol. 1: Fruits of Manifest
Destiny (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1947), p. 301; Hamilton, Zachary Taylor,
pp. 321-22.

393
opposition to Scott and set the time and place of the national convention. By the time the
meeting was over several southern Whigs had taken their leave, enraged by Mangum's
dictatorial ways and Scott's alleged ties to Seward. They had demanded that Scott endorse
the Compromise of 1850 as the last word on the slavery question. When Mangum told
them that was unnecessary and would only reignite the debate, the dissatisfied southerners
bolted. Southern editors and politicians, both Whig and Democrat, accused Mangum of
turning against his section for the sake of winning the vice presidency. When he was
offered the nomination he refused it because he knew he had alienated the voters of his
section and would be a drag on the ticket in the south. In backing Scott over such
overwhelming opposition Mangum showed how little he understood the politics of slavery.
Scott was "available" and that was all that mattered to him, so that was all that should have
mattered to everyone else. He did not see that ideologues had supplanted mechanics like
himself; he did not know that patronage and balanced tickets would no longer appease the
disaffected. The practices of the previous era were ill-suited to this new age, and this he
did not grasp.7
7 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:152, 226-29, 234, 725-45; United States
Congress, The Congressional Cilobe. 32nd Cong., 1st sess., pp. 1159-60, appendix, p.
622; North Carolina Standard (Raleigh), 28 April 1852; Raleigh Register. 17 March, 28
April, 26 May 1852; Raleigh Star. 21 April 1852; New York Times. 22 June 1852;
Hillsborough Recorder. 28 April 1852; New York Tribune. 21 April 1852; J. G. de
Roulhac Hamilton and Henry M. Wagstaff, eds., The Papers of William Alexander
Graham. 8 vols. (Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 1957-1992), 4:295,
302-303; James R. Morrill, "The Presidential Election of 1852: Death Knell of the Whig
Party in North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review 44 (1967):346-48; Larry
Keith Menna, "Embattled Conservatism: The Ideology of the Southern Whigs" (Ph. D.
dissertation, Columbia University, 1991), p. 401; Roy and Jeannette Nichols, "Election
of 1852," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P. Hansen, eds.,

394
"I am an old man & feel I have misspent much of my life," Willie Mangum
lamented in January 1853, adding that he should have given up politics twenty years
earlier.8 The years between 1849 and 1852 were difficult ones for the senator. It was then
that his brother Priestly, his friends John Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster all
died. Mangum's own health deteriorated as well. An almost fatal fall early in 1851 left
him bedridden for months and caused him pain for the rest of his life. Also during this
time his wife came close to death, his rooming house burned to the ground, his party
collapsed, and his reputation declined. Old friends noticed that he was drinking too much
and too often. Younger men condemned him for being drunk in the senate chamber,
mocked his overbearing nature, and gossiped about his womanizing. He was a relic.
While Calhoun, Webster, and Clay had the good fortune to die and be remembered as
exemplars of their age, he lingered and became a has been, an object of pity and derision.9
In the spring of 1853, Mangum went home to Red Mountain where he would
remain until his death eight years later. Neither he nor the state legislature wanted him
to serve another term in the senate. By tending to his gardens, reading the papers, and
entertaining visitors, he stayed active early in his retirement. He returned to politics in the
History of American Presidential Elections: 1789-1968. 4 vols. (New York: Chelsea
House Publishers, 1971), 1:935, 943; Brown, Edward Stanly, p. 161.
8 Shanks. The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:264.
9 Ibid., 5:174, 182, 200-201, 207, 215, 216, 231, 695, 726, 751; North Carolina
Standard (Raleigh), 28 April 1852; David Outlaw to Emily Outlaw, 4 February 1848, 13
February 1848, 2 March 1850, 3 September 1850, David Outlaw Papers, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

395
mid-1850s, holding honorary posts in county government and presiding over local political
meetings. Along with many other former Whigs, he supported the Know-Nothing
candidacy of Millard Fillmore in 1856 and even made speeches on his behalf.1U
After 1856, Mangum's steadily declining health kept him close to home. A series
of strokes left him helpless and unable to speak for extended periods of time. Reduced to
communicating by pounding his cane on the floor or scrawling words on a slate, Mangum
became dependent on his daughter Martha. His nursemaid in these final years, she read
him news of politics and of the impending sectional crisis. When South Carolina seceded
from the Union he cursed them, but when Northern warships fired on Fort Sumter he
followed his state out of the Union. Soon after the war began a local regiment honored
him with a parade on the grounds of Walnut Hall. Impressed by the young soldiers,
Mangum summoned his son William to his side and scratched out instructions that he join
them. The obedient son did and was killed at the Battle of Bull Run a few months later.
When he heard the news, the heartbroken Mangum rode with his favorite slave to the
family graveyard and pointed to the spot where his son was to be buried. He did not speak
that day; he never spoke again. On September 7, 1861, Willie Person Mangum died. The
10 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:303, 308, 311, 315, 323 746;
Hillsborough Recorder. 31 May 1854, 7 March 1855, 23 April, 14 May, 4 June 1856;
Martha Person Mangum Diary, 10 May, 7 November 1853, 8 January , 3 October, 12
October 1854, Willie P. Mangum Family Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.;
W. Darrell Overdyke, The Know-Nothing Party in the South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1950), pp. 69, 79-80; Marc W. Kruman, Parties and Politics in
North Carolina. 1836-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), pp.
178-79; Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 239, 249; Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p.
325.

396
press marked his death with laudatory stories about his long and illustrious career. But
these eulogies were thinly veiled reminders meant to jostle the memories of readers who
had forgotten their local hero and turned their attention elsewhere. The age of Jackson
was over, the last pragmatist was dead."
11 Shanks, The Papers of Willie P. Mangum. 5:280, 345-46, 355-56, 370, 388, 392,
395, 416-24, 761, 756-57; Hillsborough Recorder. 11 September 1861.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Born in 1960, Joe Thompson grew up in northern New Jersey with his eight
brothers and sisters and his parents Joanne and James. He earned his Bachelor of Arts
degree in 1983 from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and his Master of Arts
degree in 1986 from Kent State University in Ohio. He currently resides in Gainesville,
Florida with Toni, his wife of twelve years, and teaches at Santa Fe Community College.
418

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Lj
Brcwn, Ch
Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Chairman
Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
^ y.
Jeffrey'S. Adler
Associate Professor of History
I certify that 1 have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
ífnes W. Button
Professor of Political Science
I certify that 1 have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable
standards of scholarly presentation and is