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Zebulon Baird Vance
Zebulon Baird Vance - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
March 4, 1879 – April 14, 1894
Preceded by Augustus S. Merrimon
Succeeded by Thomas J. Jarvis
37th and 43rd Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 1, 1877 – February 5, 1879
Lieutenant Thomas J. Jarvis
Preceded by Curtis H. Brogden
Succeeded by Thomas J. Jarvis
In office
September 8, 1862 – May 29, 1865
Preceded by Henry T. Clark
Succeeded by William W. Holden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th district
In office
December 7, 1858 – March 3, 1861
Preceded by Thomas L. Clingman
Succeeded by Robert B. Vance
Personal details
Born (1830-05-13)May 13, 1830
Weaverville, North Carolina
Died April 14, 1894(1894-04-14) (aged 63)
North Carolina
Political party Whig/American (pre-Civil War)[1]
Conservative Party of NC (c. 1862–1872)[2][3]
Democratic (1872–1894)
Spouse(s) Harriette Vance
Children 4
Education Washington College Academy
University of North Carolina
Profession lawyer, colonel, politician

Zebulon Baird Vance (May 13, 1830 – April 14, 1894) was a Confederate military officer in the American Civil War, the 37th and 43rd Governor of North Carolina, and U.S. Senator. A prodigious writer, Vance became one of the most influential Southern leaders of the Civil War and postbellum periods.


Zebulon Vance was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina near present-day Weaverville,[4] the third of eight children. His family is known to have owned a relatively large number of slaves (18). His uncle was Congressman Robert Brank Vance, for whom his elder brother, Robert B. Vance, was named. At age twelve he was sent to study at Washington College in Tennessee, now known as Washington College Academy. The death of his father forced Vance to withdraw and return home at the age of fourteen. It was during this time that he began to court the well-bred Miss Harriette Espy by letter.[5]

Zebulon Vance birthplace

To improve his standing, Vance determined to go to law school. At the age of twenty-one, he wrote to the President of the University of North Carolina, where he was a member of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, former Governor David L. Swain, and asked for a loan so that he could attend law school. Governor Swain arranged for a $300 loan from the university, and Vance performed admirably. By 1852 Vance had begun practicing law in Asheville, and was soon elected county solicitor (prosecuting attorney). By 1853, he married Harriette Espy at Quaker Meadows, and they would subsequently have four sons.[6]

Civil War[edit]

Statue of Vance at Raleigh

By the time the ordinance of secession had passed in May 1861, Vance was a captain stationed in Raleigh, commanding a company known as the "Rough and Ready Guards," part of the Fourteenth North Carolina Regiment. That August, Vance was elected Colonel of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina. The Twenty-sixth engaged in battle in New Bern in March 1862, where Vance conducted an orderly retreat. Vance also led the Twenty-sixth at Richmond. The Twenty-sixth was ultimately destroyed at the Battle of Gettysburg, losing more than 700 of its original 800 members, though Vance at that time was no longer in military service.

In September 1862, Vance won the gubernatorial election. In the Confederacy Vance was a major proponent of individual rights and local self-government, often putting him at odds with the Confederate government of Jefferson Davis. For example, North Carolina was the only state to observe the right of habeas corpus and keep its courts fully functional during the war. Also, Vance refused to allow supplies smuggled into North Carolina by blockade runners to be given to other states until North Carolinians had their share. Vance's work for the aid and morale of the people, especially in mitigating the harsh Confederate conscription practices, inspired the nickname "War Governor of the South." Vance was re-elected in 1864. On May 29, 1865, William Woods Holden was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.[7]

Post-War career[edit]

Governor Vance was arrested by Federal forces on his birthday in May 1865 and spent time in prison in Washington, D.C. Per President Andrew Johnson's amnesty program, he filed an application for pardon on June 3, and was paroled on July 6.[8] After his parole, he began practicing law in Charlotte, North Carolina. Among his clients was accused murderer Tom Dula, the subject of the folk song "Tom Dooley." Governor Vance was formally pardoned on March 11, 1867, though no formal charges had ever been filed against him leading to his arrest, during his imprisonment, nor during the period of his parole.[8]

In 1870, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate, but due to the restrictions placed on ex-Confederates by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, he was not allowed to serve. In 1876, Vance was elected Governor once again (during which time he focused on education), and in 1879 the legislature again elected him to the United States Senate. This time he was seated, and he served in the Senate until his death in 1894. After a funeral in the U.S. Capitol, Vance was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.[8]

Starting in about 1870, Vance gave a speech hundreds of times he called "The Scattered Nation," which praised the Jews and called for religious tolerance and freedom amongst all Americans. In 1880, Vance married Florence Steele Martin of Kentucky.[9][10]


About Vance[edit]

"He was the Mount Mitchell of all our great men, and in the affections and love of the people, he towered above them all. As ages to come will not be able to mar the grandeur and greatness of Mount Mitchell, so they will not be able to efface from the hearts and minds of the people the name of their beloved Vance."

T. J. Jarvis, Governor from 1879 to 1885

By Vance[edit]

"The purpose of war is to explore each other."


"A vale of humility between two mountains of conceit."

Supposedly said by Vance about North Carolina. The two mountains of conceit are Virginia and South Carolina. This is also attributed to Alexander Hamilton, but probably predates both Hamilton and Vance.


There are several monuments dedicated to Vance:

Vance Monument in Asheville, North Carolina, with the Merrill Lynch building in the rear

Several locations and schools in North Carolina bear Vance's name:

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Zebulon B. Vance was named in his honor.


  1. ^ Holden, W. W. (1911). Memoirs of W. W. Holden. Durham, NC: The Seeman Printery. p. 19. 
  2. ^ 1862 Gubernatorial election. Ourcampaigns.com (2005-01-21). Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  3. ^ 1872 U.S. Senate election. Ourcampaigns.com (2006-12-26). Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  4. ^ Vance Birthplace, official website. Ah.dcr.state.nc.us. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  5. ^ University of North Carolina, Zebulon Baird Vance, edited from the DICTIONARY OF NORTH CAROLINA BIOGRAPHY. Docsouth.unc.edu. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  6. ^ Survey and Planning Unit (August 1973). "Quaker Meadows" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  7. ^ Presidential Proclamation No. 38, 29 May 1865, 13 Stat. 760
  8. ^ a b c Zebulon Baird Vance, 13 May 1830-14 Apr. 1894. Docsouth.unc.edu. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  9. ^ Rasmussen, Steve. Mountain Xpress – Asheville's Monument to Tolerance, May 7, 2003. Mountainx.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  10. ^ University of North Carolina – Asheville, Ramsey Library, Special Collections. Toto.lib.unca.edu (2007-01-05). Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  11. ^ Cultural Resources, North Carolina Department of (2010-01-11), NC Historic Sites – Vance Birthplace, retrieved 2010-02-14 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clement Dowd, Life of Zebulon B. Vance (Charlotte, N. C., 1897), outdated
  • Gordon McKinney, Zeb Vance : North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader (Chapel Hill, N. C., 2004), standard scholarly biography
  • Sharyn McCrumb, "Ghost Riders" (Signet, May 4, 2004)includes a fictionalized account of Vance's life told in first person.
  • Yates, Richard E. "Zebulon B. Vance: as War Governor of North Carolina, 1862‑1865," Journal of Southern History (1937) 3#1 pp 43‑75 online

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas L. Clingman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Civil War
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry T. Clark
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
William W. Holden
Preceded by
Curtis H. Brogden
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Thomas J. Jarvis
United States Senate
Preceded by
Augustus S. Merrimon
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
Served alongside: Matt W. Ransom
Succeeded by
Thomas J. Jarvis

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebulon_Baird_Vance — Please support Wikipedia.
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19 news items

Statesville Record & Landmark

Statesville Record & Landmark
Sat, 02 May 2015 20:09:03 -0700

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894) was probably the most beloved North Carolinian of the 19th century. He became distinguished-looking as he aged, possessed a keen mind and had a delicious sense of humor. He could also tell a joke and a story.

Asheville Citizen-Times

Asheville Citizen-Times
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:03:45 -0700

History has become a subject of special interest with proposals surrounding the renovation of the Vance monument. A petition now put forward by the African American Heritage Commission moves that an African-American monument be placed in Pack ...
Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:07:01 -0700

1864 Person of the Year, Joe Mobley on Zebulon Baird Vance. Each year, Time magazine selects the person who had the most influence on events during the preceding 12 months. Five historians were… read more. Each year, Time magazine selects the ...

Mountain Xpress

Mountain Xpress
Wed, 08 Apr 2015 06:55:37 -0700

Portrait of Zebulon Baird Vance on his inauguration as North Carolina governor in 1862. Photo courtesy of Pack Memorial Library. “We don't always like to see the complexity of that history,” continues Waters. “We like a clean narrative — a narrative ...

High Country Press

High Country Press
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:42:21 -0700

Governor Zebulon Baird Vance, in response to the increased violence and to enforce conscription, created the home guard in July 1863. Harvey Bingham, a former Confederate officer who was wounded in battle and unable to withstand the rigors of active ...
Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:27:35 -0700

Senate: The Senate budget would close four historic sites: the Zebulon Baird Vance birthplace near Weaverville, the President James K. Polk site in Pineville, the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace in Fremont and the House in the Horseshoe in Moore County.

Mountain Xpress

Mountain Xpress
Sun, 15 Jun 2014 06:16:46 -0700

The Weaverville farmstead that birthed former governor Zebulon Baird Vance served as an ideal setting for such reflection, said Earl Ijames, a curator for the North Carolina Museum of History who put the exhibit together. The Vance family was among the ...

Sanford Herald (registration)

Sanford Herald (registration)
Tue, 03 Jun 2014 15:41:15 -0700

The House in the Horseshoe was one of four historic sites in North Carolina considered for closure last year, along with the Zebulon Baird Vance birthplace near Weaverville, the President James K. Polk site in Pineville and the Charles B. Aycock ...

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