Macon, Nathaniel - Historia

Macon, Nathaniel - Historia

Macon, Nathaniel (1758-1837) Presidente de la Cámara: Nathaniel Macon nació en Macon Manor, en el condado de Edgecombe (ahora Warren), Carolina del Norte; el 17 de diciembre de 1758. Asistió al College of New Jersey (ahora Princeton) de 1774 a 1776, sirvió brevemente en la milicia de New Jersey y estudió derecho durante tres años en Carolina del Norte. Después de servir como soldado raso en el Ejército Continental de 1780 a 1782, se convirtió en senador estatal por tres mandatos. Macon se opuso a la Constitución de los Estados Unidos, con la preocupación de que le diera demasiado poder al gobierno central. Una vez ratificado y establecido el nuevo gobierno, se convirtió en miembro de la Cámara de Representantes en 1791, elegido Presidente de la Cámara de 1801 a 1807. Dirigió a los demócratas-republicanos, era amigo de Jefferson y enemigo de Hamilton y los federalistas. Macon permaneció en la Cámara de Representantes hasta 1815, cuando fue elegido para el Senado de los Estados Unidos. Fue senador hasta 1828 y presidente pro tempore del Senado los dos últimos años de su mandato. En 1835, presidió una convención para revisar la constitución de Carolina del Norte. Macon murió en Buck Springs, Carolina del Norte, el 29 de junio de 1837.


Macon, Nathaniel

Nathaniel Macon, estadista "viejo republicano", el hombre público más importante de Carolina del Norte a principios del siglo XIX, fue el sexto hijo de Gideon y Priscilla Jones Macon nació en la plantación de su padre en Shocco Creek en lo que más tarde se convirtió en el condado de Warren. Los Macons eran hugonotes franceses de origen, los Jones ingleses o galeses. Ambas familias habían entrado en Virginia en el siglo XVII y eran de la nobleza cuando se mudaron a tierras al sur del río Roanoke en la década de 1730. La vida temprana de Macon se conoce solo en líneas generales. Aunque asistió a la escuela con Charles Pettigrew y estaba inscrito en el College of New Jersey (ahora Princeton) cuando comenzó la Revolución Americana, aparentemente, como George Washington, fue en gran parte autodidacta. Ciertamente, su lectura fue amplia y su mente ni provinciana ni estrecha, como algunos han sugerido. Sus discursos indican un conocimiento astuto de las tierras extranjeras y las finanzas públicas, y en una carta bastante típica, Macon podría mencionar casualmente a David Hume, Gustavus Adolphus y los Apócrifos.

Macon salió al campo con la milicia de Nueva Jersey en 1776. Cuando su universidad cerró, regresó a su casa en el condado de Warren para leer leyes (que nunca practicó) e historia inglesa. La interrupción de su servicio militar no fue inusual ya que la Guerra Revolucionaria se libró a trompicones y los caballeros sirvieron a su antojo. (Una pausa similar se produjo al servicio de James Monroe y John Marshall.) Macon volvió a entrar en el ejército en 1780 en una compañía formada y comandada por su hermano. Por lo general, rechazó una comisión y la recompensa por alistarse. Probablemente estuvo presente con las fuerzas estadounidenses durante la desastrosa campaña de Camden. En 1781, cuando era un soldado de veinte años acampando en el río Yadkin, Macon recibió la noticia de su elección al Senado de Carolina del Norte, al que ingresó de mala gana y al que fue reelegido hasta 1786. Inmediatamente fue reconocido como miembro destacado .

Después de la Revolución, Macon sirvió durante un tiempo en la Cámara de los Comunes y se identificó con Willie Jones y el sentimiento antifederalista predominante en Carolina del Norte. Se negó a servir en el Congreso Continental en 1786, y su hermano John votó en contra de la Constitución federal en ambas convenciones de ratificación de Carolina del Norte. Sin embargo, Macon aceptó la elección a la Cámara de Representantes federal y entró en el Segundo Congreso en 1791. Sirvió en la Cámara durante los siguientes veinticuatro años, luego tomó un asiento en el Senado, donde permaneció durante trece años, representando así a North Carolina en el Congreso desde los treinta y tres años hasta su jubilación voluntaria a los setenta.

En la Cámara de 1791 a 1815, fue portavoz (1801-7), candidato a portavoz (1799 y 1809) y presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores (1809-10). En el Senado de 1815 a 1828, fue presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores (1818–26) y presidente pro tempore (1826–28). En ambas cámaras se desempeñó en los principales comités financieros y fue presidente de numerosos comités selectos. Durante su servicio en el Congreso rechazó nombramientos en el gabinete al menos dos veces, y sirvió durante largos períodos como administrador de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte y como oficial de la milicia y juez de paz en el condado de Warren. Durante el primer tercio del siglo XIX fue la personalidad dominante del predominante partido demócrata-republicano y el ciudadano más respetado de Carolina del Norte tanto dentro como fuera del estado.

Macon se enorgullecía de no haber hecho campaña alguna por un cargo ni de haber pedido un voto a ningún hombre. Sus habilidades legislativas y políticas no eran ni retóricas ni administrativas. Su fuerza e influencia residían en la fuerza personal, la integridad ejemplar, la astucia, un público satisfecho (o estático) y una adhesión inquebrantable a los principios fundamentales. Estos principios, forjados en la Revolución, no cambiaron en una carrera política de medio siglo. Incluían libertad individual, economía estricta y responsabilidad en los gastos del gobierno, elecciones frecuentes, discreción limitada en los funcionarios, evitar la deuda y el papel moneda, y la simplicidad republicana en las formas. Macon fue el ejemplo más puro posible de un tipo de "republicano" producido por la Revolución Americana. Estaba satisfecho con una sociedad de terratenientes que administraban sus propios asuntos y no querían beneficios ni cargas del gobierno. Quería un gobierno conducido con honestidad, sencillez y la máxima libertad para el individuo, la comunidad y el estado. Creía que Carolina del Norte se acercaba a este ideal, y libró una batalla perdida para obligar al gobierno federal a cumplirlo. Para Macon, el éxito de una democracia no dependía de la progresividad y la visión de los líderes, sino del consentimiento voluntario del pueblo. Debido a que se opuso a la mayoría de las apropiaciones e innovaciones, incluso cuando estaba casi solo, a menudo se lo ha descrito como un "radical negativo". Fiel al espíritu de "esse quam videri", Macon practicó lo que predicaba. Estaba fielmente en su asiento cuando se llevaban a cabo los asuntos públicos, sacaba del Tesoro solo sus gastos de viaje reales en lugar de la asignación máxima (como era la práctica), y vivía simplemente en Washington, a menudo compartiendo una cama con un elector visitante.

La pureza ideológica no restó valor a la astucia política de Macon (por ejemplo, aconsejó a Jefferson contra el fallido juicio político de Chase) ni le impidió ser caballeroso con sus oponentes en las relaciones personales. A pesar de su firmeza, Macon a menudo era pragmático en cuestiones de táctica política y sabía cuándo comprometerse y ceder ante su partido en cuestiones menores. Su juicio siempre estuvo bien equilibrado, sus tratos moderados. Sus discursos fueron prácticos y al grano, su primer discurso en el Congreso supuestamente fue una oración. Con una pregunta concisa en debate, hizo estallar muchas grandes burbujas del Congreso. "No se deje engañar por grandes nociones u opiniones magníficas", le dijo Macon a un joven seguidor. "Recuerde que pertenece a un estado manso y gente justa, que no quiere nada más que disfrutar los frutos de su trabajo con honestidad y distribuir sus ganancias a su manera". Con esta filosofía dominó el estado durante décadas. En sólo un breve período (1801-185) fue dispensador de patrocinio federal, y luego se negó a usarlo políticamente.

La carrera política de Macon tuvo tres fases: líder republicano jeffersoniano, 1791-1807 "Tertium Quid", 1807-ca. 1815 y estadista mayor a partir de entonces. Cuando ingresó a la Cámara de Representantes en 1791, se identificó de inmediato con el grupo opuesto a los federalistas emergentes y asumió un papel de liderazgo en las batallas parlamentarias de la década de 1790 en las que se forjó la coalición jeffersoniana. Estos servicios condujeron a la presidencia, cargo que, dijo Macon, ingresó sin buscar y se fue sin arrepentimiento. Al perder la cátedra en un desacuerdo con el ala de la administración del partido, que sintió que se había comprometido con los principios federalistas y había utilizado en lugar de eliminar el patrocinio federal, a partir de entonces fue identificado con el grupo "Viejo Republicano". Se opuso a los impuestos, la tarifa protectora, las mejoras internas (a expensas del gobierno federal), todos los gastos que no sean necesarios para el cumplimiento honesto de las funciones más esenciales del gobierno, un banco nacional, el patrocinio y la discreción del ejecutivo, y cualquier compromiso con la agitación antiesclavista del norte. Los principios que John Taylor expuso y John Randolph dramatizó, Macon personificó. Siendo independiente, nunca asistiendo a la asamblea partidista y oponiéndose a la elección tanto de James Madison como de James Monroe, apoyó a la administración en ejercicio cuando pudo y nunca participó en la oposición por el bien de la oposición. A regañadientes votó por el embargo. Durante la guerra de 1812 estuvo dispuesto a reclutar y apoyar tropas, pero se opuso a la armada, al servicio militar obligatorio nacional y a la discreción ejecutiva.

Para cuando ingresó al Senado en 1815, Macon ya era una figura venerable, una estatura que aumentó a medida que los sobrevivientes de la Revolución y los exponentes de los principios republicanos puros se volvían más raros. Aunque evidentemente estaba disgustado con la política cada vez más dinámica de la posguerra y sentía que se estaba perdiendo la verdadera virtud republicana, Macon indudablemente tuvo un impacto considerable en la siguiente generación como profeta tanto de la "democracia jacksoniana" como del separatismo sureño. Las ciudades y condados de todo el sur recibieron su nombre. Fue ampliamente discutido para la vicepresidencia en 1824 y recibió los votos electorales de Virginia para ese cargo. En 1828 fue cortejado sin éxito por John Quincy Adams como compañero de fórmula. Era tibio con Andrew Jackson, pero le dio a la coalición jacksoniana su apoyo como un mal menor a partir de 1828, y sirvió como elector de Van Buren en 1836. Evidentemente, consideraba al partido demócrata emergente como el enfoque disponible más cercano a una coalición de plantadores del sur y republicanos del norte contra la agitación antiesclavista y la explotación económica. Oponiéndose a la anulación y considerando la secesión como el remedio adecuado, también reprendió a Jackson por su proclamación de respuesta, que consideró tan contraria "a lo que era la Constitución" como la anulación. En 1835 Macon fue elegido por unanimidad presidente de la convención constitucional estatal, aunque al final se opuso a las revisiones que se adoptaron, especialmente al cambio de elecciones anuales a bienales.

La vida privada de Macon fue la fuente de sus principios públicos. De hecho, su republicanismo clásico postulaba que los líderes debían poseer virtudes independientes del cargo y debían reflejar y defender su tejido social en lugar de intentar moldearlo según su propio diseño. Su padre murió cuando él tenía cinco años, lo que le dejó tierras y los esclavos aumentaron bajo la administración de su madre y la suya propia. De estatura superior a la media, de presencia imponente, de modales dignos pero sencillos, tratando a todas las clases con cortesía y atención, pilar de su barrio, coloquial en la conversación privada, dedicado a la agricultura, los caballos, la caza y la vida al aire libre, laborando en su Con sus propios campos de tabaco, bebiendo whisky antes de las comidas y guardando buen vino solo para los huéspedes, Macon fue un plantador sureño patriarcal ejemplar. Nunca se unió a una iglesia, pero asistió a los servicios acompañado por sus esclavos y, como era de esperar, se dice que encontró al Bautista más de su gusto. Residente de toda la vida en el condado más esclavista del estado, se dice que fue dueño de dos mil acres y setenta esclavos y que dividió su propiedad en partes iguales con sus dos hijas, Betsy y Seignora, en sus matrimonios. Su casa, Buck Spring, a unas doce millas al noreste de Warrenton, fue construida en la parte más aislada de sus propiedades y era modesta para un estadista tan rico y eminente. La plantación ha sido objeto en los últimos años de un proyecto de restauración. Macon se casó con Hannah Plummer el 9 de octubre de 1783. Ella murió en 1790, dejando a las dos hijas y un hijo que murió en 1792 a los seis años.

Se dice que Macon destruyó sus propios papeles acumulados, probablemente por el mismo disgusto "republicano" por la pompa y la idolatría que lo llevó a oponerse a los gastos para una tumba para George Washington y a prohibir la construcción de un monumento sobre su propia tumba en Buck. Primavera. Este hecho ha desanimado a los biógrafos, aunque un gran número de cartas de Macon sobreviven en depósitos y publicaciones dispersos. Ha aparecido en muchos artículos, discursos y tesis sobre él específicamente o sobre la política jeffersoniana y jacksoniana. De William E. Dodd Vida de Nathaniel Macon (1903) podría ampliarse y corregirse en muchos detalles, pero sigue siendo un trabajo sustancialmente preciso y utilizable. Quizás más valiosa y practicable que una nueva biografía sería una edición confiable y completa de los discursos y cartas de Macon, un proyecto que probablemente podría englobarse en un solo volumen.

Las semejanzas de Macon son raras. Ni el estado ni la Universidad de Carolina del Norte poseen un retrato. El enorme índice de la American Library Association de grabados del siglo XIX ni siquiera contiene una entrada para Macon. Quizás la imagen más fácilmente disponible es el retrato no identificado publicado en William Henry Smith Presidentes de la Cámara de Representantes. . . (1928).

Macon fue una figura de Plutarchian que ayudó a moldear el carácter de su época y su estado. "El Sr. Macon fue uno de esos patriotas que llenan un vasto espacio en el ojo de la nación", elogió el Richmond Investigador, órgano principal del Partido Demócrata, a su muerte. Para Thomas Jefferson fue "el último de los romanos". John Randolph, al hacer su testamento, aludió al virginiano que había nombrado como su albacea como "el hombre más sabio que he conocido, excepto el señor Macon". Las generaciones posteriores prefirieron un estilo diferente de democracia y tendieron a estar de acuerdo con John Quincy Adams, de mentalidad progresista, quien encontró en Macon "una estrechez de miras que la educación no puede ampliar y cubierta por una incrustación de prejuicios que la experiencia no puede eliminar". De Hugh T. Lefler Historia de Carolina del Norte (1956) fue típico de evaluaciones posteriores al observar que Carolina del Norte siguió siendo "el Rip Van Winkle" de los estados hasta que "repudió el espíritu de Macon". Incluso un escritor comprensivo, JG de Roulhac Hamilton, lo encontró "no una fuerza constructiva", aunque un examen detallado de la carrera de Macon bien podría revelar que era más "progresista" a nivel estatal y local de lo que se creía, que era un poder federal remoto en manos de una mayoría norteña hostil ansiosa por manipular el tejido social del sur y explotar la economía del sur que él deseaba negar.

En cualquier caso, el republicanismo de Macon fue de elección deliberada, no de inercia. Como comentó William E. Dodd con un sentido de asombro, "De verdad creía en la democracia, "al permitir que el pueblo se gobierne a sí mismo. Era de una generación, clase y región que" conocía la diferencia entre las demandas de las instituciones populares y los intereses especiales "y que deliberadamente eligió un gobierno limitado como fiel reflejo de su tejido social. Ciertamente, parecería que el "espíritu de Macon" fue durante mucho tiempo el espíritu de Carolina del Norte, un espíritu que, aunque ajeno al temperamento moderno, se encuentra en el corazón de los orígenes de la democracia estadounidense. Quizás nadie sirvió al estado más desinteresadamente o mejor exhibió sus modestas virtudes tradicionales.

Sociedad Histórica del Condado de Warren, Plantación Buck Spring: hogar de Nathaniel Macon (1974).

El catálogo de fichas de la Colección de Carolina del Norte de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte, Chapel Hill, contiene citas de las cartas publicadas de Macon y la guía más completa de la literatura periódica y de tesis de Macon.

Recursos adicionales:

Nathaniel Macon Letters, 1815 1826 1835 (colección no. 01246-z). La Colección Histórica del Sur. Biblioteca de Colecciones Especiales Louis Round Wilson. Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Chapel Hill. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/m/Macon,Nathaniel.html (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

"Macon, Nathaniel, (1757 - 1837)". Directorio biográfico del Congreso de los Estados Unidos. Washington, D.C .: El Congreso. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=m000034 (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

Duppstadt, Andrew. "Nathaniel Macon y la guerra de 1812". nc1812: Bicentenario de la guerra de 1812 2012-2015. (blog) 18 de marzo de 2011. Departamento de Recursos Culturales de Carolina del Norte. http://friendsoffortmacon.org/archives/nathaniel-macon/ (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

Edwards, Weldon Nathaniel. Memorias de Nathaniel Macon, de Carolina del Norte. Raleigh: Raleigh Register Steam Power Press. 1862. https://archive.org/details/06012808.4078.emory.edu (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

Pittman, Thomas Merritt. Nathaniel Macon. Greensboro, N.C., Guilford Battle Ground Co. 1902. https://archive.org/details/nathanielmacon00pitt (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

Dodd, William E. "El lugar de Nathaniel Macon en la historia del sur". The American Historical Review 7, no. 4 (julio de 1902). 663-675. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1834563 (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

Créditos de imagen:

Gauley, Robert D. "Nathaniel Macon". 1911. Colección de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos. Oficina de Arte y Archivos, Cámara de Representantes de EE. UU. http://history.house.gov/Collection/Listing/2005/2005-016-005/ (consultado el 29 de julio de 2013).

"Fotografía, número de acceso: H.1954.22.4". 1954. Museo de Historia de Carolina del Norte.

"Fotografía, número de acceso: H.1954.22.5". 1954. Museo de Historia de Carolina del Norte.


Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon nació en el condado de Edgecombe (ahora Warren), Carolina del Norte, el 17 de diciembre de 1758. En 1774 ingresó en el College of New Jersey en Princeton y permaneció hasta 1776, cuando se unió a la milicia de New Jersey. Regresó a Carolina del Norte a fines de 1777 para estudiar derecho, pero se reincorporó al ejército en 1780 después de la invasión británica del sur. Sirvió en el Senado de Carolina del Norte de 1781 a 1786. Se unió a los Antifederalistas en su oposición a la Constitución en 1788. Después de servir en la Legislatura de Carolina del Norte en 1790, Macon fue elegido miembro de la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos en 1791. Sirvió hasta 1815, cuando fue elegido para el Senado, donde permaneció hasta 1828.

De 1791 a 1801, Macon se opuso vigorosamente a las políticas federalistas, especialmente al programa financiero de Alexander Hamilton, el Tratado de Jay, la cuasi guerra con Francia y las Leyes de Extranjería y Sedición. En general, se opuso a cualquier interpretación constitucional amplia que expandiera el poder federal, ya sea que apoyara las políticas federalistas en la década de 1790 o las políticas demócratas-republicanas después de 1801. Al oponerse a la restrictiva Ley de Sedición de 1798, argumentó que "la gente sospecha que algo no está bien cuando El gobierno teme la libre discusión ".

Cuando Thomas Jefferson fue elegido presidente en 1800 (llevando al Congreso con él), Macon fue elegido presidente de la Cámara. Ocupó el cargo hasta 1807. Como presidente, nombró a todos los comités permanentes de la Cámara y desempeñó un papel notable en la fijación del liderazgo republicano en la Cámara. Sin embargo, cuando John Randolph, designado por Macon como presidente del Comité de Medios y Arbitrios de la Cámara, rompió abiertamente con la administración de Jefferson, la influencia de Macon se desvaneció y fue destituido como portavoz.

Este alejamiento del presidente fue temporal y Macon siguió siendo influyente. Como presidente del Comité de Relaciones Exteriores de la Cámara de Representantes, apoyó la política de coerción comercial de Jefferson como alternativa a la guerra con Gran Bretaña o Francia. Aunque finalmente favoreció la Guerra de 1812, se opuso a los impuestos para apoyarla oa la construcción naval y al reclutamiento de mano de obra para perseguirla.

Macon luchó contra los intentos de reubicar el Banco de los Estados Unidos en 1811 y 1816 y se opuso constantemente a las tarifas protectoras y las mejoras internas. Un ferviente defensor de la esclavitud, se opuso al Compromiso de Missouri porque "comprometerse es reconocer el derecho del Congreso a interferir" con los derechos de los estados. Cuando cumplió 70 años, Macon dimitió del Senado. Presidió la convención constitucional de Carolina del Norte (1835) pero no votó por la constitución enmendada. Murió el 29 de junio de 1837.


El lugar de Nathaniel Macon en la historia del sur

Muchos de los que están familiarizados con la historia del sur no están familiarizados casi por completo con el personaje histórico de Nathaniel Macon. Los mejores autores lo mencionan a menudo como un caroliniano del norte, como un georgiano o simplemente como un demócrata del sur. Su participación en el desarrollo político del sur es vagamente conocida, sin embargo, cada estado del sur tiene una ciudad o un condado, o ambos, llamados por su nombre. La razón de su muerte tan completamente fuera de la mente de los hombres es doble: primero, los sureños no han sido estudiantes de historia, segundo, el propio Macon ordenó que se quemaran todos sus papeles antes de su muerte. El viejo líder algo errático estaba decidido a ocultar sus huellas, y casi lo logró.

Nathaniel Macon nació en la "mansión Macon", en el condado de Warren, Carolina del Norte, el 17 de diciembre de 1758. Era descendiente de una familia hugonote que había sido ennoblecida, se nos dice, en 1321. Una rama de la familia llegó a América en 1680, se estableció cerca de Middle Plantation en Virginia y pronto fue contado entre las primeras familias de la provincia.2 A principios de los años treinta, el padre de Nathaniel emigró a Carolina del Norte y antes de 1760 se había convertido en uno de los hombres más ricos de la zona sur de Roanoke. " El mayor de los Macon era para la parte superior de Carolina del Norte lo que el mayor de Jefferson era para el norte de Virginia: un subyugante del bosque y un luchador indio, una especie de Markgraf, siempre listo para una empresa ardua. El joven Macon, como el joven Jefferson, quedó huérfano a una tierna edad y con una buena fortuna. Fue enviado a Princeton, donde muchos jóvenes sureños se estaban preparando para la crisis que se avecinaba. En la universidad, Macon “sirvió de gira” en el ejército revolucionario, pero regresó en el otoño de 1776 a Carolina del Norte, donde se dedicó durante tres años al estudio de derecho e historia. Dos días antes de la caída de Charleston se unió a una compañía de voluntarios del condado de Warren y fue elegido teniente; sin embargo, rechazó el honor, prefiriendo servir como soldado raso. Su compañía estaba en Camden, y fue una de las pocas compañías que mantuvo un espectáculo de orden y apareció lista para el servicio en el Yadkin unos días después. Desde febrero de 1781 hasta diciembre de 1785, Macon estuvo en la legislatura estatal como senador de Warren, se le identificó con la democracia Willie Jones en contra del partido aristocrático del este bajo Johnston, Hooper e Iredell en 1786, fue elegido delegado para el Congreso Continental y fue "ordenado" a Nueva York por el gobernador, pero como Willie Jones en esto, desobedeció la orden: se opuso al envío de delegados del estado al antiguo Congreso. La nueva Constitución nacional encontró su decidida oposición pero en 1791 se presentó en Filadelfia como miembro de la Cámara de Representantes de Carolina del Norte, donde permaneció sin interrupción hasta 1815, cuando fue trasladado al Senado. Nadie intentó derrotar su elección al Senado y, por lo tanto, permaneció en el cargo hasta que se retiró por su propia voluntad y nombró a su sucesor. De 1828 a 1837 vivió en un retiro aislado en su plantación a doce millas al norte de Warrenton y dos millas al sur de Roanoke. En 1835 se desempeñó como presidente de la convención que dio a Carolina del Norte su segunda constitución. Un año después manifestó gran interés por la elección de la boleta Van Buren y se regocijó con el triunfo de su candidato. Murió el 28 de junio de 1837 y fue enterrado en la cima más árida de su gran plantación. Una enorme pila de pedernal, rodeada de robles cubiertos de maleza, ahora marca el lugar.

Este es un breve resumen de la vida pública de Macon. Deseo ahora señalar las políticas políticas de su carrera y su influencia para que estas políticas se incorporen al credo político del Sur.

Cuando la Revolución llegó a su fin, los líderes prominentes del antiguo régimen de Carolina del Norte comenzaron a reafirmarse nuevamente en la política estatal. Habían sido excluidos de la participación activa en los asuntos públicos por dos consideraciones: (1) un interés demasiado celoso en la causa estadounidense en caso de una derrota final traería la ruina total sobre ellos y sus familias (2) los radicales, sansculottes como eran Más tarde llamados, estaban en la silla y miraban con recelo a los ricos conservadores que constantemente denunciaban todas las formas republicanas de gobierno y especialmente las más democráticas. ¿Los líderes de los conservadores cuando sus esfuerzos organizados comenzaron a sentirse por segunda vez eran Johnston y Hooper, ya mencionados, ambos de los cuales estaban estrechamente relacionados con prominentes realistas? El líder de los radicales y el virtual dictador del estado era Willie Jones, un rico plantador que vivía como un príncipe pero que hablaba y votaba como un jacobino. Los que se habían mantenido al margen de la Revolución, los comerciantes de las ciudades orientales y muchos de los conservadores, se unieron a los conservadores en 1782-1785, y estos elementos que formaban un partido compacto y poderoso deseaban sustituir al antiguo régimen real por un gobierno nacional fuerte. , idea que prometía un cierto freno al poder del Estado que estaba entonces en manos de sus opositores políticos. Los exiliados o emigrados, naturalmente, buscaban en estos nacionales protección contra los líderes estatales enojados, y con la promesa de tal ayuda, regresaron a sus propiedades. Los radicales —los whigs, como Macon siempre insistía en llamarlos— estaban decididos a que los tibios dirigentes de la Revolución y sus nuevos aliados, los conservadores, no adquirieran la supremacía. Se aplicó una dura ley de confiscación contra todos los que habían tomado parte en la causa británica o cuya conducta durante la guerra había sido objeto de serias dudas. Y dado que toda la maquinaria del gobierno estatal estaba bajo el control de este último partido, era natural que continuaran exaltando al estado y censurando todos los intentos de sus oponentes de formar una “unión más permanente de todos los estados”. El estado fue creación de los whigs, sus enemigos o detractores eran poco mejores para ellos que los propios conservadores.

Tal era la división de partidos en Carolina del Norte y en general en el sur, cuando Macon ingresó a la legislatura en 1781. Era un radical por naturaleza: se unió al partido Jones del que su hermano ya era un líder prominente. Era una especie de fiesta virginiana siguiendo el patrón de Jefferson de 1776 Jones y los Macons eran prácticamente virginianos. Le habían dado a Carolina del Norte una constitución en 1776 siguiendo el modelo de su estado madre. La reforma, la democracia del tipo más simple, eran las ideas que defendían. Un elemento más encomiable de su credo en esta época caótica era el que exigía un sistema financiero sólido basado en el oro y la plata. Esto no pudieron llevarlo a cabo, pero sus serios esfuerzos les hicieron un gran honor. Formaba parte de su esquema de organización estatal y, junto con él, abogaban por aranceles proteccionistas, mejoras públicas, fomento del comercio exterior y las relaciones y un mejor sistema de educación pública. Así pues, la célebre política estadounidense de un día posterior se adelantó en Carolina del Norte. En esta escuela, Macon cumplió su aprendizaje y luego se retiró a la edad de veintisiete años a su nueva casa cerca de Roanoke para observar el curso de los acontecimientos. Un llamado de este retiro para servir al estado en el Congreso Continental no fue atendido, como se ha visto. Cuando se presentó la nueva Constitución a Carolina del Norte, se esforzó al máximo para derrotarla. Sus mayores oponentes, Willie Jones y Thomas Person, eran sus amigos y vecinos. Toda la parte superior de Carolina del Norte, como toda la parte inferior de Virginia, se oponía violentamente a cualquier plan de unión nacional, el país que proporcionó a la Revolución el mayor número de tropas en relación con la población y en el que, se jactaba, apenas vivía un conservador, estaba en 1788 más decidido en su oposición a todas las formas de nacionalismo. Toda la amplia zona desde Richmond hasta Raleigh y desde Norfolk hasta la nueva casa de Patrick Henry más allá de Danville era incondicionalmente antifederalista. Sus líderes más antiguos eran Henry y Jones, su joven, Macon y John Randolph.

Pero cuando finalmente se aprobó la Constitución, Macon volvió a entrar en la política y fue uno de los primeros defensores de la construcción estricta del “contrato” entre los estados. Pronto se convirtió en su campeón, y para él se convirtió en una especie de fetiche. La integridad del estado dependía de la adhesión más rígida a la letra de ese instrumento. En 1796-1798 abogó por incrementar la milicia de los estados cada vez que los federalistas proponían incrementar el ejército la milicia entonces y en 1807 era su única dependencia para la defensa nacional su reorganización y equipamiento completo eran temas perpetuos con él. La principal acusación de inconsistencia que jamás se le presentó fue la de 1807-1808, cuando ante la guerra con Inglaterra votó por un aumento de seis mil hombres para el ejército de los Estados Unidos. Se opuso a la Ley de Sedición principalmente por el hecho de que invadiría la prerrogativa del estado. “Que los Estados”, dijo, “sigan castigando cuando sea necesario el libertinaje de la prensa ¿cómo se va a pasar que el Congreso ahora conciba que tiene potestad para aprobar leyes sobre este tema? Este gobierno depende de las legislaturas estatales para su existencia. Solo tienen que negarse a elegir senadores en el Congreso y todo se ha ido ". Las Resoluciones de Virginia y Kentucky expresaron su punto de vista en su totalidad y les brindó su sincero apoyo en Carolina del Norte, aunque la legislatura las votó con desdén por debajo de la mesa. Pero los federalistas tenían entonces el control.

Cuando Macon se convirtió en presidente de la Cámara de Representantes en el Congreso como resultado de la elevación de Jefferson a la presidencia, tuvo una mejor oportunidad de hacer sentir sus principios a este respecto. En la larga y enconada controversia sobre la derogación de la Ley del Poder Judicial, participó activamente, no solo como Portavoz, sino como defensor de la derogación en el pleno de la Cámara. Su discurso más característico lo pronunció en esta ocasión. En él combatió la posición federalista de que la derogación era inconstitucional, también estableció un principio que no era nuevo en la legislatura nacional, pero que era radical en extremo, a saber, que la legislatura estatal podía instruir con autoridad a sus senadores en el Congreso y recomendar a sus Representantes cómo deben votar sobre cuestiones importantes. Esto habría colocado a los senadores de los Estados Unidos sustancialmente en el terreno de los embajadores de sus respectivos estados, no muy diferente al de los representantes de los estados alemanes en la Bundesrath Imperial en Berlín. Sin embargo, el amigo de Macon, Randolph, dio un paso más y declaró que su estado también podría instruir a los representantes. To meet this, James A. Bayard of Delaware replied that he was as much a representative of Virginia as was Randolph himself. This policy of the two most important southern leaders was not without influence throughout the south and west. It was the foundation-stone of the Jacksonian democracy in so far as it put the will of the sovereign people as expressed in the legislatures above all other authority. Macon also favored expansion and growth of the state courts to meet the increasing demands of the country. Although Macon was not an enemy to the Supreme Court, as were Jefferson and Randolph, he was in himself a standing protest against John Marshall’s great constructive decisions. He opposed the impeachment measures which ruined Randolph and taught Jefferson that there were limitations to the powers of a great popular majority.

It has been said that secession began with Jefferson in 1798, was accentuated by Randolph, and became a creed with the southern states after 1832 in other words, that Jefferson, John Randolph, and Calhoun were the apostles of this great dogma. This was in the main correct, but Macon was as important as Randolph in this development. He stood for the state as it was in 1789, and for a doctrine which was the legacy of the province, a legacy of intensely angry political struggles during the Revolution he stood, as he said, for a state which could at will withdraw its Senators from Congress, and which did receive representatives from foreign courts, accredited to its chief magistrates as late as 1793? Ten years before Randolph was heard of he was an advocate of the essential features of Randolph’s policy in the House of Representatives. It was the latter who became the political complement of the former, not the reverse. But Randolph’s strange personality and his telling stageacting first brought Macon’s doctrine prominently before the nation. These two men acquiring great influence and becoming, as it were, god-fathers to the younger generation of southern politicians, outlined thus the policy of nullification during the early years of Jefferson’s first administration. Can we be surprised then at Macon’s sending Jackson in 1833 an angry protest against the proclamation on nullification? He wrote Samuel P. Carson Feb. 9, 1833: “I have never believed a State could nullify and remain in the Union, but I have always believed that a State might secede when she pleased, provided she would pay her proportion of the public debt and this right I have considered the best guard to public liberty and to public justice that could be desired. The proclamation contains principles as contrary to what was the Constitution as Nullification. It is the great error of the administration which, except that, has been satisfactory in a high degree. A government of opinion established by sovereign States for special purposes can not be maintained by force.”

One of the severest criticisms of Macon’s career, so far as students have criticised at all, has been that he constantly voted against all naval appropriations, even when war was imminent. The key to this part of his policy is to be found in his determination to prevent the least increase of power in the hands of the easterners. A navy, he thought, would be manned and controlled by Connecticut and Massachusetts, in other words, by the most capable seamen in the country. He was an agrarian who believed that the products of the plantation would find their way to European markets without our aid. It was immaterial to him whether Old or New England carried his tobacco to London. He would not have given a dollar to secure the carrying trade of the Atlantic.

The first speech he made in Congress on an important bill was in favor of a protective tariff for the encouragement of the infant cotton industry. This was in 1792. He prophesied that cottongrowing would become a source of great wealth to the United States. It is interesting to notice that this early attempt at protection to infant industries failed, because influential members of Congress thought cotton planting would destroy the fertility of the soil and ultimately impoverish the nation. Almost as many members from the south as from the north voted against the cotton protective tariff. But Macon, more alert than some have thought, was in closer touch with the interests of his state and he declared that the people there had “already gone largely in the cultivation of that plant.” Three years later, however, when Nicholas J. Roosevelt and Jacob Mark presented a petition to Congress asking for protection for an “ infant ” iron industry which they were promoting, he opposed it, notwithstanding his friend Gallatin favored the scheme. Macon said : “The best policy of all such cases is to leave that kind of business to the industry of our citizens they will work the mines if it is to their interest to do so.” It was the question here as to whose ox was to be helped out of the ditch.

At the extra session of Congress in 1797, when the bill providing for a large increase of the navy for the protection of commerce was pending, Macon was able to get an amendment passed which provided that the proposed frigates, when built and manned, should not be sent without the waters of the United States. This amendment was defeated in the Senate, but Macon and his friends were so persistent and powerful in their opposition that the plan was about to fail, and Samuel Sewall of Massachusetts declared: “ Gentlemen who depend upon agriculture for every thing need not put themselves to the expense of protecting the commerce of the country commerce is able to protect itself if they will only suffer it to do so. Let those States which live by commerce be separated from the Confederacy. Their collected industry and property are equal to their own protection and let other parts of the Confederacy take care of themselves.”

When Jefferson’s non-importation measure was brought before Congress in February 1806, Macon opposed all that part of it which recommended the building of war vessels and coast fortifications, but favored the proposition for gun boats : “I believe them better adapted,” said he, “to the defense of our harbors than any other. If we were now at war with any other nation, however gentlemen may be surprised at the declaration, I think we should do well to lend our navy to another nation also at war with that which we might be at war for I think such a nation would manage it more to our advantage than ourselves.” A curious policy to be sure was this, but it was in accord with his general attitude toward naval armaments. The Southern agriculturalists had, from the beginning, opposed all such outlay, claiming that it was useless and believing, without saying as much however, that every ship built at the national expense to protect trade added to the power which was one day to grapple with their section in a fearful struggle for supremacy. In view of this final termination of the intense rivalry between the sections, Macon’s political foresight was not so poor as might at first appear. During the trying period of non-importation and embargo, he had his idea of agricultural supremacy clearly in view. He opposed every measure of the first Republican administration which seemed to obscure this issue.

In this policy Randolph joined him, though as much from motives of enmity to the President as from jealousy of New England. But Macon and Randolph were both staunch advocates of this so-called “mud-turtle” plan of Southern politicians. Randolph spoke out distinctly their view of things when he said in the debate on non-importation : “What is the question in dispute ? The carrying trade. What part of it ? The fair, the honest and useful trade that is engaged in carrying our own productions to foreign markets and bringing back their productions in exchange? No, Sir, it is that carrying trade which covers enemy’s property and carries the coffee, the sugar, and other West Indian products to the mother country. No, Sir, if this great agricultural nation is to be governed by Salem and Boston, New York and Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk and Charleston, let gentlemen come out and say so. I, for one, will not mortgage my property and my liberty to carry on this trade.” When Randolph declared he would never vote a shilling for a navy and Macon said, “ lend your navy to a foreign enemy of our enemy,” they were opposing New England and speaking for their own section, for their own agrarian interests. Commerce and great cities had no more attractions for Macon than for Randolph or Jefferson.

In connection with this subject, Macon’s attitude toward slavery is to be considered. His view of the question may best be seen in his attitude to the prohibition of the importation of slaves into the United States. This measure came up in 1807. By the compromises on which the national Constitution is based, this traffic might be forever forbidden after January 1, 1808. But the economic conditions of the South had changed since 1787 and South Carolina, supported by the silent good-will of her sister states, now claimed that Congress could not constitutionally abolish the slave trade against the will and wish of a sovereign state. So much for the growth of the idea of state supremacy, a growth fostered by everlasting disputes between the South and the East, a growth dependent on the economic change just mentioned—cotton-growing based on plenteous slave labor. It was a question of dollars and cents, Macon thought, not of human freedom, which animated both sides in Congress. The prosperity of the South depended now on slavery, on agricultural development that of the East on commerce which the Southern members so constantly decried and often crippled. The growth of the slave power was to the East what the advancement of commerce was to the South—success of a rival bent on controlling the Union in its own interest. The morality of the question was a secondary consideration though, as in a similar question of recent date, the speeches of the leaders were filled with moral and humanitarian professions. Macon said in committee of the whole : “I still consider this a commercial question. The laws of nations have nothing more to do with it than the laws of the Turks or the Hindoos. If this is not a commercial question, I would thank the gentlemen to show what part of the Constitution gives us any right to legislate on this subject.” Macon regretted sincerely the existence of the “dread institution,” yet he was as sincerely determined to maintain it as a right of the state and a check against the supremacy of the East. Both he and Randolph now maintained that a state could, if it desired, continue the slave trade independently of the Union, and they began to see that the equal growth of the South with the North depended on the expansion of the slave power. Here the second part of Macon’s life-long policy, agricul-turalism, became identical with the first, state sovereignty.

Macon did a great deal to put Jefferson in the presidential chair. North Carolina was the home of a strong Adams party, and it was with no little pains that the Republicans overcame the influence of the wealthy families enlisted under the banner of Federalism. Soon after the inauguration, Macon was given control of the federal patronage in his state this led to very cordial and confidential relations between the President and the Speaker of the House. And when Jefferson sounded Congress in 1802 with regard to his aggressive policy on the Mississippi, he received immediate assurance that he would be supported in any reasonable scheme he might set in motion for acquiring the control of lower Louisiana. The purchase of Louisiana, as all the world knows, was as much a piece of good luck as it was the result of Jefferson’s policy of expansion. When Macon heard of the favorable turn of things in Paris he wrote the President that “the acquisition of Louisiana has given general satisfaction, though the terms are not correctly known. But if it is within the compass of the present revenue, the purchase, when the terms are known, will be more admired than even now.” And then he adds what must have given his correspondent genuine satisfaction and which indicates Macon’s own political policy, “if the Floridas can be obtained on tolerable terms we shall have nothing to make us uneasy, unless it be the party madness of some of our dissatisfied citizens.” From this time on he never lost sight of the acquisition of Florida as one of the items of sound policy. There was much talk a little later about giving Louisiana to Spain in exchange for Florida, but Macon seems not to have given assent to any such plan. He was much interested in the acquisition of southern territory because he saw the significance of these possessions, first for the southern states and then for the Union. The balance of power between the two sections of the country was what he desired to see maintained even at that early stage.

January 1811, when the question of the admission of the new territory of Orleans was agitating the country, Macon expressed publicly his policy with regard to gaining southern territory “much as the Southern country is desired and great is the convenience of possessing it”—were the terms he used. Not as territory, “not as a dependency,” but as independent southern states did he wish to hold that country. The same ideas prevailed with him in 1819 when Florida was annexed. But another question had the attention of Congress and the country—the organization and control of Missouri. In a letter to Bartlett Yancey, of North Carolina, touching this subject, he regrets very much the loss of “ Stone’s motion which would have given two degrees more to the people of the South.” With the failure, as Macon regarded it, of the South in the Missouri Compromise, his active participation in the expansion of the slave power closed. Randolph and Macon remained firm in their attitude toward this question and both voted against the Missouri Compromise. But the time had long since passed when Southern congressmen gave sincere attention to the counsels of Macon and Randolph men were then filled with the ideas which Clay represented. It was not until 1832, when both were retired forever from active politics, that Southerners with Calhoun as their leader returned to what Macon always stood for, state supremacy, and only in 1837-1842 was it that their scheme of aggressive expansion became the creed of the great South Carolinian.

A paper on Macon would scarce be complete without considering his influence and power in pressing upon the nation the ideas he represented. In 1796 he became the undisputed leader of the Jefferson party in North Carolina in 1799 the last attempt to defeat him was made. The same year he established in Raleigh the first and greatest partizan newspaper the state has ever had. Joseph Gales was its editor. Macon and Gales and their companions in politics waged a fierce and successful war of words in North Carolina in 1800. They carried the state for their party, but they could not prevent the election of four powerful Federalist congressmen in 1801. But these were defeated in 1803 through the industry and ability of Gales rather than of Macon. All parties recognized Macon’s right to leadership in his state from 1803 to 1828 and his authority was never questioned in his own party after 1803 except temporarily in 1808, when he opposed Madison’s candidacy, preferring Gallatin instead.

In national affairs his period of power was from 1801 to 1812. It began with his almost undisputed election to the speakership of the House. In the chair he was the equal of any who had occupied it he used its almost despotic powers more often than any predecessor had done. He was without a Republican competitor in 1803 and with his faithful friend Randolph as chairman of the committee on ways and means, there was no defeating measures of which he approved. He was positive enough to make his wishes known by setting aside the precedent of the Speaker’s voting only in the case of a tie and having his vote registered as that of a member of the House. The present plan of presidential balloting, which required an amendment to the Constitution, was passed by his vote. Between 1803 and 1807 he allowed his friendship for Randolph and his dislike of Jefferson’s supposed leaning toward Madison to lead him astray. He favored openly the candidacy oi Monroe for President and opposed much of the non-importation plans of the administration he even winked at Randolph’s foolish scheme of feigning sickness in 1806 in order, as chairman of the committee on ways and means, to defeat Jefferson’s foreign policy just referred to. This caused a breach between the President and the Speaker, a breach which resulted in the complete isolation of Macon. He was succeeded by Varnum in 1807. Jefferson commanded the Northern Republicans whom his conciliatory policy had called into prominence, and he still held enough of the Southerners to carry through all essential schemes. Randolph’s bizarre actions and wild speeches soon caused Macon to regret the political side of their David-and-Jonathan friendship, and before 1809 we find him voting in the main with the administration. At the opening of Congress in 1809 he was the choice of all Southern Republicans for Speaker and missed the election by only twenty votes. This returning popularity brought immediate recognition on the part of an administration floundering about in a slough of despondency. The way out of the bogs of embargo was being so earnestly sought after, that Macon, as a popular leader of the “old Republicans,” became one of the first characters of the country. Any bill he championed was likely to pass, but he did not bring one forward until after the Embargo Act had been repealed and a solution of all foreign difficulties was sought by Madison in 1810.

As a result of the very large vote for the speakership Macon was made chairman of the committee on foreign relations for the first session of the eleventh Congress. He at once introduced a series of resolutions looking to the settlement of our difficulties with the warring powers of Europe. The resolutions were debated somewhat at Vength and finally changed to the famous Macon Bill No. 1, which was undoubtedly an administration measure and which Gallatin had much to do with framing, but not all. After more than a month of debate the bill finally passed the House, January 27, 1820. Its main features were : (1) To exclude English and French war and merchant ships from American ports (2) to restrict importations from England and France except such as came in American vessels (3) to admit only such imports as should come direct from the country producing them. The bill also repealed the non-intercourse laws and limited the duration of the proposed act to March 4, 1810.

The purpose of Macon’s plan was to make England and France feel America’s power and to set the nation that refused to recognize our rights as neutrals clearly in the wrong before all sections of the country. But the Senate dominated by anti-Gallatin men defeated Macon’s bill in order to humiliate its reputed author. Macon Bill No. 2 was then introduced but with this Macon had nothing whatever to do, not even voting for it on its final passage, May 1. This bill promised free trade with either England or France in case either repealed its restrictive laws on neutral commerce. The nation which refused to change its policy was to be allowed no imports whatever into the United States. This plan was little more than a bid to France to come to America’s assistance and thus to isolate England completely, for no one expected the latter country to yield to our demands. The Macon bills occupied Congress throughout the session. Being the mouthpiece of the government, besides a most popular leader, Macon was practically the first character in Congress and among the first in the country.

With the beginning of the War of 1812 and the appearance in Congress of Calhoun, Clay, Lowndes, Cheves—the younger generation of politicians—Macon’s influence in national affairs came practically to an end. He remained easily first in North Carolina, however, as long as he lived.

Macon’s place and influence in Southern history is alongside that of John Randolph he was before Randolph in his advocacy of state supremacy and more influential at all times because more practical and reasonable he was a Southern agrarian of the Jeffersonian type and in this he was in full accord with Randolph his policy of southern expansion was a dim outlining of Calhoun’s aggressive plan of 1842 and this attitude of his compelled him to espouse the cause of slavery since slavery was the basis of Southern wealth, and necessary as a weapon with which to fight the free states. His influence was based on the control of his own state and on the confidence which his unimpeachable sincerity and honesty inspired.

This essay was originally published in the American Historical Review, Vol 7, No. 4, July 1902.


Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon (December 17, 1757 – June 29, 1837) was an American politician who represented North Carolina in both houses of Congress. He was the fifth Speaker of the House, serving from 1801 to 1807. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1815 and a member of the United States Senate from 1815 to 1828. He opposed ratification of the United States Constitution and the Federalist economic policies of Alexander Hamilton. Thomas Jefferson dubbed him "Ultimas Romanorum"—“the last of the Romans”.

During his political career he was spokesman for the Old Republican faction of the Democratic-Republican Party that wanted to strictly limit the United States federal government. Along with fellow Old Republicans John Randolph and John Taylor, Macon frequently opposed various domestic policy proposals, and generally opposed the internal improvements promoted by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun.

An earnest defender of slavery, Macon voted against the Missouri Compromise in 1820. In the 1824 presidential election, he received several electoral votes for vice president, despite declining to run, as the stand-in running-mate for William Harris Crawford. He also served as president of the 1835 North Carolina constitutional convention.

After leaving public office, he served as a trustee for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and protested President Andrew Jackson's threat to use force during the Nullification Crisis.


Nathaniel Macon: King of the Tar Heels

N athaniel Macon was quite possibly the most important man in the history of the Tar Heel State, North Carolina. Jefferson called him the “last of the Romans”—meaning a republican who favored limited government, frugality, and selfless service—and Macon’s friend and political ally, John Randolph of Roanoke, described him as the wisest man he ever knew. Most Americans have probably never heard of Macon. Modern history texts rarely mention him, if at all.

Among the Founding Fathers, he was everything that politically correct interpretations of American history try to avoid. Nathaniel Macon championed states’ rights, supported secession, denounced the Constitution, presided over a large tobacco plantation, served with distinction in the Revolution in defense of his state and region, and opposed every measure that tended to increase centralization and federal power. He lived a simple life, and though a genuine Southern aristocrat, was never pretentious. Macon was the personification of the Old South, and an American hero.

The first Macon, a French Huguenot named Gideon Macon, arrived in Virginia of the American Colonies before 1680 and became a prominent tobacco planter in the tidewater region of Virginia. His grandson, Gideon Macon, moved to North Carolina in the 1730s, established a tobacco plantation, and built the family home, Macon Manor. The Macon family was well connected in both Virginia and North Carolina. For example, George Washington’s wife, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, was descended from this line. Gideon Macon and his wife, Priscilla Jones, had six children. The last, Nathaniel Macon was born in 1758, and was only five when his father died. Nathaniel was bequeathed around five hundred acres, three slaves, and all of his father’s blacksmith tools. From 1766 to 1773, Macon was educated by Charles Pettigrew, grandfather of the famous Confederate general by the same name, and later attended the College of New Jersey, otherwise known as Princeton University.

He left the college when the War for American Independence began in 1775 and enlisted with the New Jersey militia. He served one year, returned to North Carolina and began the study of law. He again enlisted for military duty in 1780 when his state was threatened by the British invasion of the South. Nathaniel Macon refused a commission, and also refused the bounty offered for enlistment. He fought at the Battle of Camden. When chosen to serve in the state Senate in 1781, he initially refused, but later accepted as a favor to General Nathanael Greene. Macon regarded his military service as service to his state—as did most Americans serving in the War for Independence—not to any union represented by the Continental Congress.

He served in the state legislature for the remainder of the 1780s. While there, he met and befriended Willie Jones, the dominant Anti-Federalist in North Carolina. The state elected Macon to serve in the Continental Congress in 1786, but he declined, and when several states called for a convention to discuss changes to the Articles of Confederation, Macon opposed North Carolina’s participation. He did not attend the North Carolina ratification convention, but, along with his brother, John Macon, urged the defeat of the Constitution. North Carolina would not ratify the document until 1789, and only after the Bill of Rights—especially the Ninth and Tenth Amendments—were guaranteed.

He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1791 to 1813 and in the United States Senate from 1813 to 1828. He was Speaker of the House for six years and president pro tempore of the Senate for one. His thirty-seven years of service occurred during the formative years of the republic, and he became a leading “negative” on federal action. Few other members cast as many “no” votes as Macon. One biographer called him a “negative radical,” but this derogatory term does not do Macon justice. He voted “no” so often because he believed the federal government continually abused its authority and unconstitutionally enlarged its scope and influence. He took friend and foe alike to task for their support of unconstitutional measures.

Macon was identified as one of a group of thirteen “Quids” during his time in Congress. John Randolph of Roanoke bestowed the title on the group because their consistent attachment to limited government made them the other “thing” (in Latin, a quid is a “thing”) in relation to the Federalists and the Republicans. Macon was the recognized leader of the North Carolina delegation to the House of Representatives. He immediately characterized Alexander Hamilton as the “supreme evil-doer” and joined the opposition to his economic programs. Southerners believed that New England and New York were exercising too much influence on the general direction of the United States, especially in advancing Northern commercial interests against Southern agrarian interests. Macon shared that view.

Macon suggested a series of excise taxes in 1794 that would have extended the burden of the “whiskey tax” onto other beverages like beer, porter, and cider. His intent was to spread the pain, given that the whiskey tax fell disproportionately on Western and Southern farmers. Macon and other Southern leaders felt that the whiskey tax was a political tax, imposed by Northern Federalists on Southern Republicans. In 1788, when Federalists attempted to limit free speech through the Sedition Act, Macon at once challenged the bill. He declared the provisions of the sedition law violated the spirit of 1776, and claimed that “the people suspect something is not right when free discussion is feared by government. They know that truth is not afraid of investigation.” It was true, he conceded, that states had exercised the same power of the Sedition Act, but that was within their constitutional authority. He reasoned “let the States continue to punish, when necessary, licentiousness of the press” what he denied was the federal usurpation of this right. Moreover, Macon argued the bill violated the First Amendment to the Constitution. “How can so plain language be misunderstood or interpreted into consistency with the bill before us?”

Nathaniel Macon consistently challenged federal designs to weaken the states and institute legislation that conflicted with republican principles of government, and he supported the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, where Madison and Jefferson put forward the argument that the states could nullify federal legislation. Macon went further, stating that if the states wished to end the federal government, they could do so because “the Government depends upon the State Legislatures for existence. They have only to refuse to elect Senators to Congress and all is gone.” This would have worked in 1798, but after the Seventeenth Amendment (1913) and the direct election of senators, this was no longer the case. Macon would certainly have opposed that glaring reduction of state power. But Macon did not focus singly on matters of state and federal power.

He was a firm advocate of fiscal responsibility. For example, he voted against spending $7,000 (around $120,000 2007 dollars) on a monument to George Washington, not because he did not think Washington deserved the honor, but because the sum was too large and not an appropriate expenditure for the Federal government in any case. When Federalists asked for enormous sums of money to wage a war against France, Macon responded by saying, “Some people think borrowing five or six millions a trifling thing. We may leave it for our children to pay. This is unjust. If we contract a debt we ought to pay it, and not leave it to your children. What should we think of a father who would run in debt and leave it for his children to pay?” He also asked, “Ought we not to save all the expenses which are not absolutely necessary?”

Macon’s independence was shown in his willingness to oppose those in his own party when they deviated from republican principles. Jefferson realized this in his second term. This is when Macon became identified as a “Quid.” For a time, Macon attacked and ridiculed President Jefferson at every turn for what Macon regarded as Jefferson’s inconsistent adherence to republican principles and the Constitution. Macon was not a “party man.” He voted his beliefs. In fact, Macon was the model of the disinterested statesman. He did not seek election during the Revolution. When his state chose him to serve in the United States Senate, it was at the state legislature’s insistence, not his. He was elected Speaker of the House three times, though he never actively campaigned for the position. When he was defeated for a fourth term in 1807, he never said a word about it. He turned down several offers of more “prestigious” positions in the federal government, from cabinet appointments to Vice President. Macon shunned the “glamour” of political office, and was a selfless public servant for his state.

The Republican of Buck Spring

Buck Spring was a remote, sprawling tobacco plantation in Warrenton, North Carolina, that at one time covered two thousand acres. This was Macon’s home and in the republican tradition of departing public life gracefully, he retired there in 1828. Macon lived twelve miles from the nearest post office and only received mail once every two weeks. His wife had died when he was thirty-two, and Macon never remarried. He lived alone but peacefully among his seventy slaves. He brought his entire group of slaves with him to church services once a month and had a separate service every Sunday at his home. His slaves were required to participate, and elder slaves would often lead a prayer. He was a genuine Southern aristocrat but a man of simple tastes. He ate what the plantation produced and preferred corn whiskey. He was fond of thoroughbreds and kept at least ten fine horses, and he enjoyed such Southern activities as fox chasing. Unless visitors called, Macon rarely had contact with the outside world. Buck Spring was his first country, North Carolina his second.

Nathaniel Macon did, however, stay abreast of the current political debates even in retirement. When South Carolina nullified the federal tariff in 1832, several leading Southerners pressed Macon for an opinion. He had supported nullification in 1798, but his attitude had changed. He believed nullification alone would not be enough to check Northern usurpation of power and argued secession was the only remedy. “I have never believed a State could nullify and stay in the Union, but have always believed a State might secede when she pleased, provided she would pay her proportion of the public debt, and this right I have considered the best guard to public liberty and to public justice that could be desired.” He sent a strong letter to President Andrew Jackson critical of his threat to use military force to collect the tariff. Macon contended the federal government could not legally use force against a state in order to “maintain the Union.”

He also opposed the re-charter of the Second Bank of the United States. Macon fought against the Bank for forty years. He voted against the Bank while Speaker of the House and once said that “Banks are the nobility of the country, they have exclusive privileges and like all nobility, must be supported by the people and they are the worst kind, because they oppress secretly.” When President Jackson vetoed a bill supporting re-charter in 1832, Macon applauded the move. Like other republicans of his day, Macon considered the bank to be a symbol of Northern corruption.

One of Macon’s final forays into public life occurred in 1835 as a member of the state constitutional convention called to revise the state constitution of 1776. He pressed for religious liberty, suffrage based on “maturity” rather than property, public funding for education, and open government that was accountable to the people.

The 1776 constitution granted the vote to free blacks who met the existing property qualifications. Macon opposed repealing that provision but was defeated. His proposal for yearly elections was also voted down. In the end, Macon opposed ratification of the new constitution, which passed anyway. Though a formidable political opponent, Macon extended Southern hospitality, even for his enemies. “While life is spared, if any of you should pass through the country in which I live, I should be glad to see you.” He believed the convention was his final act, but he took an active role in the 1836 presidential contest as an elector from North Carolina. He supported the New Yorker Martin Van Buren because his election meant the triumph of “Southern Republicans” and “principle.” He said after the election that it was the “best evidence in the world of the indomitable spirit of democracy.”

Nathaniel Macon died one year later, suddenly, at Buck Spring, at the age of seventy- nine. He gave instructions to bury him next to his wife and son and to cover the grave in piles of flint rock so the plot would remain undisturbed, and it remains so today. Fifteen hundred people attended his funeral, and, as per his will, he provided all with “dinner and grog.” One participant recalled that “No-one, white or black, went away hungry.” Macon, Georgia, and Randolph-Macon College were named in his honor, as well as counties in Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, and North Carolina. He called North Carolina his “beloved mother,” and his son-in-law presided over North Carolina’s secession convention in 1861. Macon was a republican who believed in the “principles of ’76.” No other man better exemplifies the devotion to states’ rights that was so important a part of the Founding generation.


Contents list

Expand/collapse Nathaniel Macon Letters, 1815 1826 1835.

Original finding aid #01246-z, Series: "Nathaniel Macon Letters, 1815 1826 1835." Folder 1

Letters, 1815, 1826, and 1835 #01246-z, Series: "Nathaniel Macon Letters, 1815 1826 1835." Folder 1

Processing Information

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, June 2010

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

Diacritics and other special characters have been omitted from this finding aid to facilitate keyword searching in web browsers.


Macon, Nathaniel - History

Including excerpts from, "History of Macon County, Illinois", 1880

Prior to 1829 the territory included within the present boundaries of Macon county formed a part of the county of Shelby. Before the assembling of the Legislature in 1829 a committee of three, consisting of Benjamin R. Austin, Andrew Smith and John Ward, had been appointed to go to Vandalia, then the capital of the State, and secure the passage of an act dividing Shelby county and creating a new county out of the territory thus divided.

The committee succeeded and during the session the following Act establishing the county of Macon* was approved.

"AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A NEW COUNTY TO BE CALLED THE COUNTY OF MACON.

"SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois represented in the General Assembly, That all that tract of country lying within the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at the southwest corner of section numbered eighteen, in township numbered fourteen north, of range numbered one east of the third principal meridian thence due north with the said third principal meridian line to the northwest corner of township numbered twenty north, of range numbered one east thence due east with the line between townships numbered twenty and twenty-one north, to the northeast corner of township numbered twenty north, of range numbered six east thence due south with the line between ranges number six and seven east, to the southeast corner of section numbered thirteen, in township numbered fourteen north, of range numbered six east and from thence due west along through the middle of townships numbered fourteen north, to the place of beginning, shall constitute a county, to be called the county of Macon, and the seat of justice therein, when located, shall be called the town of Decatur."


Macon, Nathaniel - History

The Nathaniel Macon Chapter, NSDAR, is eager to answer your questions and help you along the path to becoming a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR or DAR). Few adventures in your life will be more rewarding than joining a society that promotes "God, Home, and Country." The objectives of the Nathaniel Macon Chapter, NSDAR, are to promote historic preservation along with encouraging active participation in educational and patriotic endeavors. Send us an EMAIL today. we are waiting to answer your questions!

Most of the volunteer work of DAR is accomplished under a committee system comprised of national chairs and locally appointed state and chapter chairs. Some of the numerous DAR committees promoting our mission include (but are not limited to): American Heritage, DAR Scholarship, Genealogical Records, Junior American Citizens, Literacy Promotion, The Flag of the United States of America, and National Defense. We can work together to make sure you play an active role with a committee you enjoy that addresses a subject close to your heart. Whether you hope to have an impact with school-aged children, teachers, nurses, veterans serving our country abroad, or women in this community, we can help you meet your volunteer goals. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

The content contained herein does not necessarily represent the position of the NSDAR.


Nathaniel Macon

Nathaniel Macon, a nationally prominent senator and congressman from North Carolina, was born December 17,1758. He served in the United States Congress continuously for thirty-seven years, as representative from 1791 to 1815 and as senator from 1815 until he resigned in1828. As Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1801-1807, Macon was one of the most powerful men in the nation and exercised great influence until his death June 29, 1837.

His wish was that no grief be expressed at his funeral. He requested that dinner and grog be served and that each friend cast a stone on his grave. He is buried at his homeplace beside his wife and son. The fourth grave is believed to be Macon's grandson. Large mounds of stones cover all the graves. Thomas Jefferson referred to Macon as "The Last of the Romans."

Temas y series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial Sites &bull Government & Politics &bull Patriots & Patriotism. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson series list. A significant historical date for this entry is June 29, 1837.

Localización. 36° 28.9′ N, 77° 59.76′ W. Marker is near Buck Spring, North Carolina, in Warren County. Marker is on Nathaniel Macon Drive (County Road 1348) half a mile west of Eaton

Ferry Road (County Road 1344), on the right when traveling west. Toque para ver el mapa. Marker is at or near this postal address: 217 Nathaniel Macon Drive, Littleton NC 27850, United States of America. Toque para obtener instrucciones.

Otros marcadores cercanos. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Nathaniel Macon (approx. 3.8 miles away) William Miller (approx. 4.9 miles away) Ella Baker (approx. 6 miles away) Plummer Bernard Young (approx. 6 miles away) Bragg Home (approx. 10.3 miles away) Warrenton Male Academy (approx. 10.4 miles away) John Hall (approx. 10.4 miles away) John H. Kerr (approx. 10 miles away).

More about this marker. I believe Nathaniel Macon Drive is also called Buck Spring Drive. This is a rural area and Buck Spring is the name of the historic plantation rather than a town.


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